Fri, Dec 05, 2014 - Page 8 News List

EDITORITAL: New Cabinet must focus on future

Following the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) defeat in Saturday’s elections, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) resigned and is to be replaced by Deputy Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), who will keep most of the current Cabinet members. The reshuffle brings nothing new, and Mao’s Cabinet is doomed to be an unproductive one.

Although President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) trusted Jiang, and the KMT had full control of the central government, the legislature and most local governments, policy implementation has been fraught with problems and the Cabinet has been unable to deal with the cross-strait trade in services and goods agreements, the food safety scandals, the 12-year compulsory education program, the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), rising consumer prices, housing policy, uneven income distribution and so on.

Mao would be lucky to enjoy Jiang’s political situation and resources. He is dealing with a recently defeated and demoralized party, the president’s prestige is in the doldrums and he has no political support.

The KMT is busy reorganizing, while the opposition is on a roll and new local government leaders are committed to showing what they can do. Although the KMT still controls a legislative majority, morale is not what it was before the local elections, and with legislative elections only two years away, they are unwilling to go along with Cabinet policies.

Mao’s Cabinet will not be a strong force for reform. It will be dependent on the premier’s wisdom, strategy and patience, and he must acknowledge the challenges facing it.

First, the lesson to be learned from the Jiang Cabinet’s failures is that although the premier is appointed by the president and answers to the legislature, the Cabinet must understand that the public is its master and it must listen to public opinion. The Jiang Cabinet upset the public by listening only to Ma, and Jiang had to step down when things went sour for Ma.

Second, it is important to heal wounds and consolidate the foundation. The KMT has suffered a debilitating blow and changes are needed in the Presidential Office, the Cabinet and the party. The new Cabinet should adjust its pace to obtain a running-in period to build team strength and an understanding between team members, put party disputes and other conflicts to one side while promoting consensual policies and working to win the public’s trust.

Third, communication and compromise are important. It is unlikely that Mao will be a strong premier, so he must focus on compromise and communication, in particular with the opposition parties and the legislature. Before making policy, he must also communicate with the public and coordinate between ministries. Once a policy has been formed, the Cabinet must follow a more thorough and detailed strategy in its coordination with the legislature than it has in the past.

Fourth, the Cabinet must understand changing social trends. The KMT has always focused on economic development and growth, but the election results show that most people do not want the kind of growth and development that the public at large cannot enjoy, especially if it benefits only a small group of already powerful and wealthy people, while the starting monthly salary for new graduates remains stuck at NT$22,000, income distribution is uneven and the environment is damaged.

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