Fri, Jan 20, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: New Cabinet faces a testing time

Ending days of speculation, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) finally announced yesterday his decision to appoint former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as the new premier.

The resignation of Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) also suggests an end to the "reconciliation and co-existence" approach by which Hsieh hoped to peacefully "co-exist" with the pan-blues, but in the end turned out to be little more than wishful thinking on his part.

Perfecting the "reconciliation and co-existence" approach was Hsieh's biggest political task when he assumed the premiership in February. However, after an 11-month "trial period," the continued rejection of the arms procurement plan by the legislature, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) strategy of uniting with the Chinese Communist Party and the legislature's boycott of most Cabinet initiatives exacted a desperate toll on Hsieh's political career. The atmosphere of reconciliation that he hoped for is still sadly lacking.

Given the pan-blue camp's difficulty in ridding itself of the "party-state" mindset, the failure of Hsieh's attempts at reconciliation and co-existence with the residue of an autocratic era came as no surprise.

The DPP administration must take this lesson to heart and not veer from its localization path. After all, that is the main reason why voters gathered behind the party and voted Chen into the Presidential Office in 2000 and 2004.

A new Cabinet resolved to reinvigorating Taiwan's economy and putting the president's "active management, effective opening" approach to cross-strait economic exchanges into effect must not waver from leading Taiwan in this direction.

Apart from making an effort to understand the public's needs, the new Cabinet also needs to improve communication with party members.

With that said, the new Cabinet also needs to keep in mind that an attempt to build a harmonious political climate with the opposition parties does not mean pandering to all of their demands, nor does it require ingratiation with the pan-blues and their slight legislative majority.

The new Cabinet must remain cool-headed, try to hold the political highground and ditch the mindset of fawning to the pan-blue camp, because as Hsieh and his Cabinet found out, the very idea that in return for the government's goodwill the pan-blues will be more cooperative is pie in the sky.

It is to be expected that the pan-blues, knowing full well that Su is likely to be one of the main contenders for his party's presidential ticket in the 2008 presidential race, will not give him an easy ride, and will probably work to undermine his standing during the tenure of his premiership.

Therefore, the road ahead will no doubt be an arduous one for Su and the members of his new Cabinet when they begin dealing with the legislature next month.

The new Cabinet, under Su's leadership, must be determined, take firm action, improve the government's overall performance and revive public confidence in the present government if it wishes to have any impact on the country.

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