Fri, Jan 25, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Yu unveils final appointments to `combative Cabinet'

RESHUFFLE The premier-designate has tapped China Airlines' Christine Tsung to lead the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Bank head Lee Yung-shan will be Minister of Finance

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier-designate Yu Shyi-kun yesterday presented his fourth and final round of Cabinet appointees, including the new economic affairs and finance ministers, completing the reshuffled Cabinet which is to be sworn in on Feb. 1.

Lee Yung-shan (李庸三), chairman of the ROC Banks' Association (銀行公會) and the International Commercial Bank of China (中國國際商銀), will head the Ministry of Finance.

Christine Tsung (宗才怡), president of China Airlines Co (華航), will be the first female minister of economic affairs in Taiwan's history, Yu said.

"Expertise, personality and suitability are my main criteria for making the nominations," Yu said, downplaying media speculation that Lee's appointment was a decision made overnight.

Just hours before midnight on Wednesday, Benny Hu (胡定吾), former president of China Development Industrial Bank (CDIB, 中華開發銀行), confirmed to local media that he had been offered the job as finance minister.

But according to local media reports, Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英) -- Hu's former boss and current chairman of the CDIB -- opposed the appointment, prompting Yu and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to reconsider their choice and turn to former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) finance wizard.

Yu stressed yesterday that he had the final say on all Cabinet appointments.

The new finance minister had turned down the offer at least three times before he finally agreed to take the post, Yu said.

Flatly denying that cronyism was also part of the decision-making process for the economic affairs and finance posts, Yu said that his ideal candidates were those with "a combination of industrial, academic and governmental backgrounds."

Assuring the media that they are suited for their new posts, Lee and Tsung yesterday outlined their qualifications for the tasks they have been assigned.

"My widespread contacts within the banking sector and academic circles will facilitate my future role as a bridge between the government and the private sector," Lee said.

Tsung said: "In the US, I had 15 years of experience working for the high-tech industry, a steel company and other traditional industries including the manufacturing sector."

Tsung added that she would soon relinquish her US citizenship before taking office.

Praising his successor, vice premier-designate Lin Hsin-yi (林信義) yesterday said that "Tsung and Lee are both from the private sector, which places importance on [making business considerations such as] costs and benefits."

Lin said he believed the two appointees would serve the people of Taiwan with a "customer-orientated" attitude.

Lee, 63, who holds a PhD in economics from the University of Wisconsin, had previously served as president of Chiao Tung Bank (交通銀行) and director of the Institute of Economics at Academia Sinica.

Tsung, 54, earned an MBA from the University of Missouri and studied management for one year at Washington University's graduate school before she worked as a marketing manager with Columbia Pictures and subsequently deputy CEO with US consumer-electronics company Electrolux.

She also served as a finance officer for the city government of Poway, near San Diego, California.

Other appointments yesterday included Lin Lin-san (林陵三) -- who will be promoted from vice minister to head up the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

Meanwhile, Lin's predecessor Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) will be new chief of the Cabinet-level Council for Hakka Affairs.

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