Premier-designate Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) revealed most of the rest of his Cabinet lineup yesterday, with many pan-blues raising an eyebrow at his nomination of a pan-green camp member to head the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).
At a press conference, Liu said former Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) would be MAC chairwoman, adding that Lai “completely agrees with president-elect Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) cross-strait platform.”
Ma played the dominant role in Lai’s nomination and that of the new defense minister, Liu said.
Liu lauded Lai’s achievements, saying she had performed well in cross-strait negotiation at the WTO in the past.
He said the status of the MAC in the incoming administration was “very clear,” meaning that “cross-strait policies will be handed down to the MAC for execution after the president finalizes the policies through the national security mechanism.”
Some “deep-blue” supporters shouted “Wrong choice of Cabinet personnel!” and demonstrated outside the press conference as Liu spoke.
They held up placards reading “Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] members do not welcome a pro-independence advocate to take over the MAC.”
Earlier yesterday, some KMT legislators also expressed reservations about Lai’s nomination.
KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said the nomination showed the “revival of [former president] Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) approach.”
Chiu said the nomination could “sabotage the atmosphere for cross-strait reconciliation,” adding that Lai is not a skilled negotiator.
“This is very provocative to China, just like eating pork in front of a Muslim,” KMT Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) said.
KMT Central Standing Committee member Lien Sheng-wen (連勝文) said he wondered how Lai could map out cross-strait policies given her “lack of understanding of China.”
Ma defended his choice of Lai, saying she would help his administration find common ground with people who did not vote for him.
“Although we garnered about 7.65 million votes [in the election], there remains some 5 million people who did not vote for us,” Ma said at KMT headquarters later yesterday.
“They are also concerned about whether our cross-strait policies will influence the interests of the Taiwanese people,” he said.
“These concerns prompted vice-president-elect [Vincent] Siew (蕭萬長), premier-designate Liu and I to invite her [Lai] to be chairwoman of MAC,” he said, adding that Lee also supported Lai’s appointment.
Ma praised Lai’s expertise in international and cross-strait affairs, adding that she agrees with Ma and Siew’s stance of “no independence, no unification and no use of force” and the so-called “1992 consensus.”
Ma said he had anticipated the negative feedback before the nomination, adding that he would take the various opinions into consideration.
Other appointees announced yesterday include National Chi Nan University president Chang Chin-fu (張進福) and former education minister Ovid Tseng (曾志朗), both of whom will be ministers without portfolio.
Former deputy defense minister Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) will return as minister of national defense.
Former National Chengchi University president Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) will take over the Ministry of Education, while Lee Sush-der(李述德), director of the Taipei City Government secretariat, will head the Ministry of Finance.
Former deputy representative to Australia Vanessa Shih (史亞平) was nominated to be Cabinet spokeswoman and Government Information Office (GIO) minister, while former deputy finance minister Gordon Chen (陳樹) will head the Financial Supervisory Commission.
Former Taipei City Government Laws and Regulations director Cheng Ching-hsiu (陳清秀) was made head of the Central Personnel Administration and Chou Kung-hsin (周�?, chairwoman of the Graduate Institute of Museum Studies at Fu Jen Catholic University, will lead the National Palace Museum.
Former director of the Veterans Affairs Commission Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) will take charge of the commission again.
Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻), former president of National Tsing Hua University’s Nuclear Science and Technology Development Center, was appointed director of the Atomic Energy Council, while National Central University president Lee Lou-chuang (李羅權) will become director of the National Science Council.
Jiang Yi-hua (江宜樺), a political science professor at National Taiwan University, will take over the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, while Huang Pi-twan (黃碧端), former president of the Tainan National University of the Arts, was made director-general of the Council for Cultural Affairs.
Former deputy Taoyuan County commissioner Fan Liang-hsiu (范良鏽) will be in charge of the Public Construction Commission, while Tai Hsia-ling (戴遐齡), a professor of physical education, will lead the Sports Affairs Council.
KMT spokesman Huang Yu-chen (黃玉振) will become director of the Council for Hakka Affairs.
Liu said he had unveiled about 90 percent of the total Cabinet lineup, adding that the rest of the appointees will be made public in the next few days.
GIO minister-designate Shih had a short meeting with the press yesterday afternoon.
Shih has been working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1987 after passing the national diplomacy examination a year earlier.
She said she first met Ma two years ago as Taiwan’s deputy representative to Australia when she helped Ma arrange his schedule for a trip there.
“Maybe my performance at that time came to Ma’s attention and so [premier-designate] Liu asked me to take up the position [of GIO minister],” Shih said.
Shih, 46, once served as secretary to senior diplomat Ding Mao-shih (丁懋時) when Ding was Taiwan’s representative to the US and continued to work for Ding when he was secretary-general of the Presidential Office’s National Security Council.
Ding was entrusted to handle cross-strait and foreign affairs by former president Lee during his presidency.
Shih was transferred back to the ministry from Australia last year, serving as the deputy representative on home assignment. She was appointed as vice president of the ministry’s NGO Affairs Committee late last month, but she has yet to assume the position.
Asked to comment about Huang Yu-chen’s appointment at the Council for Hakka Affairs, Huang Tzu-yao (黃子堯), chairman of the Taiwan Hakka Association for Public Affairs, said “The appointment came as a surprise.”
“It’s not such a good idea to appoint a party official to that position,” he said. “Especially as Huang Yu-chen has no previous experiences in Hakka affairs, even though he is a Hakka — but not many people knew that either.”
However, Huang Tzu-yao said he hoped Huang Yu-chen could use his media and communications background to promote Hakka culture and help Ma push his Hakka policies.
“Ma promised to establish a nationwide Hakka radio station and set up Hakka cultural regions in counties with more than 400,000 Hakka people,” he said. “Hopefully his background would be helpful — we’ll see.”
In related developments, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman-designate Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) returned to the nation from his trip to China yesterday afternoon.
Chiang, who flew to China on Thursday, said he believed the SEF and the MAC would communicate and cooperate smoothly.
Meanwhile, former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) left for China yesterday morning on a “personal” trip.
He declined to comment on who he may meet during the trip.
When asked for comment on Lien’s journey, Ma said any non-government personnel or political party representatives were allowed to communicate with China as long as the communication does not violate the law.
However, he said it is very clear that only the MAC and SEF can negotiate with China on behalf of the government.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and Loa Iok-sin
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