With every beginning comes new expectations and fresh hope for a better tomorrow. It is therefore a matter of course that with outgoing premier and vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) leading his Cabinet in a mass resignation on Tuesday, many were eagerly anticipating the new Cabinet line-up.
Hearts sank, however, when premier-designate Sean Chen (陳冲) unveiled the new team later that day. The list was anything but inspiring.
First, there was the disappointing choice of outgoing Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Christina Liu (劉憶如) as the new minister of finance, and outgoing Minister without Portfolio Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) as the new head of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD).
Yiin, the first economics minister in the administrative team during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) first presidential term, was notorious for having his ministry publish an offensive comic strip that featured the fictional characters Yi-ge (一哥) and Fa-sao (發嫂), back in July 2009. Two years may have passed, but many still vividly recall how the ministry — then under Yiin — put forward such a racist and derogatory portrayal of the nation’s ethnic groups in its promotion of the then still proposed Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China.
Ma trumpets himself as a leader who appoints officials according to their talents and expertise.
Yiin, aside from having a less than stellar track record as economics minister, was during his stint as minister without portfolio best known for penning articles lambasting the opposition. Many can’t help but wonder if Yiin’s appointment as CEPD head was just a way of rewarding him for attacking the opposition during the presidential campaign.
As for Liu, she hit the headlines daily during the final weeks in the run-up to last month’s presidential election for her attacks on Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), accusing the latter of wrongdoing in her involvement with a biotechnology start-up.
Allegations that Liu fabricated the evidence behind her attack on Tsai are still hovering over her, so many may find it unconvincing that Ma has selected an official with questionable credibility to oversee the nation’s financial affairs.
The opposition regards Liu’s appointment as finance minister as little more than a political reward for the role she played during the presidential campaign.
Young people are often taught in civic education classes that officials are promoted to serve the people and the nation’s common good in line with their competence and past performance. It therefore comes as more than disheartening to see how Ma sets a bad example by divvying up ministerial positions according to efforts contributed along partisan lines.
Officials are on taxpayers’ payroll to serve the people, so it is to be sincerely hoped that the new Cabinet will deliver work worthy of its pay.
We can only hope that the new Cabinet, however uninspiring its line-up may be, will work to surprise us with performance beyond the public’s expectations.
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