As expected, the Cabinet was once again restructured without any prior notice. In the reorganization, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源), who held the highest approval ratings among all Cabinet members, was forced to leave. This was the biggest Cabinet change during Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s (江宜樺) time in office. Regardless of how those responsible may try to justify themselves, there are a few things that need to be said.
First, the Cabinet members before this most recent revamp were all picked by Jiang, or were at least people whose ascendance he accepted. Now they have been asked to leave and each is full of complaints. The reasons for this are of course complex; however, being a minister is a very important position and no good can come of the Cabinet if ministers are appointed and removed in such a random and willy-nilly fashion.
Even President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is talking about focusing on boosting economic growth and it is indeed strange that those overseeing Taiwan’s economic development are still safe in their positions when they are doing such a bad job and are unable to come up with any constructive economic plans. Instead the interior minister, who was actually doing something, is asked to step down because he did not always listen to orders from above.
Making an example of Lee like this will make official affairs at the Cabinet run more smoothly; however, it is also likely to turn the Cabinet into a place ruled by the voice of one man alone, which will be of no benefit to Taiwan’s overall development or to the Cabinet’s image.
More importantly, the reconstruction of a Cabinet is an important event. However, such rearrangements now happen whenever someone is perceived to be doing a bad job, although maybe in this case it would be more appropriate to say reshuffling follows when members do not listen to orders from higher up.
This is very damaging to the government’s credibility, although Jiang may not even be aware of this.
Perhaps it is normal to have people step down when they are doing a bad job. However, if people doing a good job are asked to step down or leave because a superior merely wants to exercise their will, while those doing a lousy job stay in office merely because they listen to orders from above, then Taiwanese should be afraid.
The overall credibility of the Cabinet will only continue to suffer if these random reorganizations continue.
Li Kuan-long is a lecturer at the Greater Kaohsiung campus of Shih Chien University.
Translated by Drew Cameron