Now that former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) has resigned amid bribery allegations, it is imperative that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) stop placing his clique of officials in the Cabinet and allow the premier to exercise his executive authority to pick his own Cabinet officials.
Lin, a native Taiwanese who came from a political family in Greater Kaohsiung, is a member of the so-called Ma troop. Aged 44, he has already been trusted with major posts, including Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice chairman and KMT caucus whip, before being appointed as Executive Yuan secretary-general in February.
The Cabinet lost another official earlier this year after former minister of finance Christina Liu (劉憶如) resigned in May over her capital gains tax proposal. Both Lin and Liu, as well as Liu’s predecessor, former finance minister Lee Sush-der (李述德), were appointed to the Cabinet under Ma’s influence. While these appointments were made to facilitate the implementation of government policies, the lack of trust and communication between those officials, Cabinet members and legislative branch actually had exactly the opposite effect.
Liu failed in her attempt to get the capital gains tax bill passed because of her problematic relations with the legislature. Lin, on the other hand, tendered his resignation after failing to clear up accusations that he accepted a bribe of NT$63 million (US$2.15 million) from a metal-recycling company.
These officials had Ma’s full endorsement when they were in the Cabinet, while Premier Sean Chen’s (陳冲) executive authority was weakened in the process. Instead of working closely with Chen, they were delivering Ma’s messages and carrying out his policies, while failing to communicate with other Cabinet members or discuss policies with party legislators.
The incident with Lin is just another example of Ma’s problematic choice of personnel. He has been accused over the years of favoring people with academic backgrounds and poor negotiating skills, and limiting decision-making to an extremely small group of aides.
Now, with Lin’s resignation, Ma should take full responsibility for the fallout. He must not repeat the mistakes and place his cohorts in the Cabinet again.
The new secretary-general should establish a rapport with the premier and be able to communicate with legislative branch and Cabinet members. This position is especially crucial because an extra legislative session will be held this month to handle the US beef import issue and capital gains tax draft.
Ma has always put his image before the public interest and maintaining his reputation is the top priority of his aides. However, the Lin incident proved that Ma’s image and the reputation of his administration have been seriously tarnished.
As the Presidential Office and the Cabinet scramble to find a replacement for Lin, it is time for Ma to give the job of appointing the next Executive Yuan secretary-general back to Chen, or the poor communication between the executive and legislative branches will continue and the nation will continue to suffer under this incompetent government.