In the US, where the executive and legislative branches are separated, department secretaries do not have to attend US Congress hearings, with the exception of committee hearings. When they do attend, they simply follow protocol and do not have to worry about Congress members from opposition parties asking impromptu questions aimed at embarrassing them.
In Taiwan’s legislature, on the other hand, there are no restrictions on language and content. The sessions are perhaps the longest among all democracies and they differ from other countries in that legislators can bring props, in particular, and they make spurious claims. This all means that ministers come under substantial pressure.
With internal competitive pressure from civil servants and external pressure from the legislature, it is no wonder that ministers are working themselves to exhaustion.
Jiang said that Taiwan needs a leadership team that is firm and calm, and is able to handle matters with presence of mind.
Under the current system, that is a futile wish. As premier, he should start working on reform.
Yang Tai-shuenn is professor and chairperson of Chinese Culture University’s political science department.
Translated by Perry Svensson