Executive Yuan Secretary-General Hsueh Hsiang-chuan (薛香川) and Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) offered to resign yesterday after becoming magnets for criticism over the government’s response to the destruction wrought by Typhoon Morakot.
Chen was criticized for the ministry’s slow deployment of troops and equipment to evacuate stranded villagers, while Hsueh came under fire after he admitted attending a Father’s Day dinner at a five-star hotel in Taipei on Aug. 8 while southern Taiwan was being pummeled by torrential rains.
Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) confirmed that Chen and Hsueh had given him their verbal resignations.
PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES
Liu said he would not make a decision about the two men until an overall review of the Cabinet is made early next month.
“The August 8 flooding was a great trauma for the country. We devoted ourselves wholeheartedly to disaster relief and reconstruction, but what we did was perceived negatively by the public,” Liu said.
I care about that very much. I feel bad, guilty and sad,” the premier said.
“I wish all the people in the country could trust us and believe that we understand your sufferings and will continue to spare no effort until reconstruction is accomplished and done well,” he said.
Liu, however, did not elaborate on what he saw as his responsibilities.
The premier also did not respond when asked if he would follow Ma in offering an apology to the people and skirted the question of what he might have done wrong.
Liu said he had reached an agreement with Ma that Cabinet members need to do their jobs well at this stage and that any decision on a reshuffle would be made early next month after an overall review of the Cabinet’s performance.
“Of course I will be included in the overall review,” Liu said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) yesterday urged Ma to keep his promise to reshuffle the Cabinet next month, adding that if the party was unable to empathize with the public, it should be “toppled” as well.
“The [Cabinet] team led by Liu Chao-shiuan is problematic. This is evident given its approval ratings in public opinion polls conducted by organizations at home and abroad,” Lo said.
Ma would never regain the trust of the people if he only found a few scapegoats to take the blame for the government, Lo said.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the government must upgrade its compensation plan and repeated its demand that the Cabinet be reshuffled immediately.
DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) criticized Liu for not offering to resign, saying the premier and the Cabinet were the main reason the typhoon escalated into a crisis and that Liu must take responsibility.
Speaking at the party’s Central Executive Committee meeting, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged the government to quickly implement the Typhoon Morakot reconstruction resolution initiated by the DPP caucus and increase its compensation offers.
The DPP has proposed that each household that was under 50cm of floodwater should receive NT$50,000 instead of the NT$20,000 set by the Ministry of Interior. The Council of Labor Affairs should also increase the hourly wage payable for victims who have lost their jobs from NT$100 to NT$150 or NT$1,200 a day, it said.
The DPP asked the government to issue interest-free loans to help victims pay their mortgages.
The DPP committee also agreed to postpone the party’s annual national convention from Sept. 19 to Oct. 17.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also
‘BASELESS ACCUSATIONS’: Ker Chien-ming said it was not possible to drop Chen Chu’s nomination, while KMT lawmakers accused their DPP rivals of ‘homicidal behavior’ The Legislative Yuan is to vote on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) nominations for the Control Yuan on July 17 after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators regained access to the legislative chamber yesterday after it was occupied by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers for about 19 hours. The Legislative Yuan had been scheduled to meet yesterday morning to discuss its planned extraordinary session, but more than 20 KMT lawmakers on Sunday afternoon broke into the main chamber and occupied the legislative speaker’s podium to protest Tsai’s nomination of former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) to be Control Yuan president. The KMT caucus