Wed, Jan 26, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Hsieh has the real job ahead of him

With an outstanding record as Kaohsiung mayor, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is now the new premier. Well aware of Hsieh's negotiating skills, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) appointed him in the hope that Hsieh can break the political stalemate in the legislature and foster an atmosphere of reconciliation.

Hsieh's minority Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government in Kaohsiung City had itself encountered relentless acts of obstruction and boycotts in the city council.

Hsieh adopted a low-key approach and quietly negotiated with the opposition parties. In doing so, Hsieh gradually won over the support of city councilors regardless of affiliation. Hsieh's achievements in Kaohsiung have been impressive, earning him solid support in that electorate, support which should transfer to the national stage.

Chen has stated that the next Cabinet should focus on negotiation, dialogue and stability. This can only impress and benefit a public with political battle fatigue. Hsieh's softer approach, intelligence and sense of humor are the qualities needed for the job, if anyone is going to pull it off.

A number of legislative bills that fueled opposition protests during Yu Shyi-kun's term as premier -- such as the arms procurement package -- have passed through the most difficult phase, and this might allow the government and the opposition to become more cooperative.

The previous Cabinet also failed to adequately sell its well-intended policies to the public and the opposition. This should be avoided by the Hsieh Cabinet.

The Cabinet should also form an administrative team that can implement negotiations with legislators behind the scenes, and so share Hsieh's burden in pushing through policies of national importance.

Over the last three years, the Yu Cabinet has been hamstrung by the DPP's bitter conflict with the pan-blue camp. Members of the Chen administration have been unwilling to communicate face-to-face with hostile legislators and provide a clear explanation of government policy.

The result of this was that negotiations between the DPP and the pan-blue camp were conducted between legislators who were already sharply divided. The result was a repeated breakdown in communication.

To achieve a better result, the DPP should show a sincere willingness to share government resources, releasing a portion of them for use by opposition parties. It should be more accepting of the needs of the opposition.

Only in this way will successful communication and negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties be possible, and only in this way will a resolution of the confrontation that exists in the legislature be found.

Because there is still a minority government, Hsieh must show the political acumen that he displayed as Kaohsiung mayor and develop a good understanding with the members of the new legislature.

In this way he will be able to assist the DPP administration create an atmosphere of detente. Only then will the DPP be in a position to focus on cross-strait issues, promote Taiwan's economic development and assist Chen in building a brighter future for the country.

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