Fri, May 09, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Fixing how the nation implements its policies

By Li Hua-Chiu 李華球

The state of the national security apparatus over the past eight years can only be described as a complete mess. News reports imply that former vice premier Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) is somehow involved in the diplomatic corruption case that came to the fore a few days ago. Chiou was secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC) when the events at the origin of the scandal unfolded. At this point, there are indeed myriad defects and problems with the national security apparatus and they are in urgent need of fixing.

First, let us address the matter of policymaking coordination. According to Taiwan’s national security structure, the NSC is the primary policymaking coordination body. It integrates the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Defense, gathers the opinions of each organization and presents specific policy recommendations to the president.

After a policy decision has been made collectively, council members implement the policies.

The most important qualities for work in that sector are ability and stature. A person with the right abilities should be able to simplify complex matters and integrate the opinions of each department in a clear and systematic fashion to formulate workable policy recommendations. This makes it easy for the policymaker to give orders and maintain a firm grasp on the situation.

The recent announcement of Lai Shin-yuan’s (賴幸媛) appointment as MAC chairwoman triggered much public discussion as well as opposition. One reason for this concern was whether Lai’s coordination skills and stature are sufficient for the job. However, the MAC is actually only a secondary body in the coordination and execution of cross-strait policies.

If national security policymakers and the head coordinator are able to ensure smooth operations in an organized manner, there should not be cause for great concern. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to wait until president-elect Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration assumes office and starts engaging in work before making any judgments.

Next, let us address the issue of task delegation and cooperation. Given the size of the security apparatus, ensuring its smooth and stable functioning is no mean feat. With regard to the area of collecting the opinions of all the members, the NSC should invite each government department mentioned above to participate in discussions. After carrying out broad and wide-ranging talks, a report should be presented to the president containing analyses and comparisons between all of the ideas and opinions brought up in those discussions. This would serve as a basis for decisions.

The key issue is how to delegate tasks and ensure cooperation. The most important thing in task delegation is avoiding departmental bias. Furthermore, the primary national security players must be allowed to fully use all their abilities and stature in integration and coordination to ensure smooth and firm steering.

Being able to work cooperatively after the tasks have been delegated is the key to mission success. The most important skills for ensuring effective cooperation are horizontal communication and vertical integration. In other words, one must engage in thorough and comprehensive communication and coordination with each department in order to obtain a certain level of consensus. This would result in the formation of an integrated and multifaceted strategy to achieve one’s original purpose.

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