Fri, Sep 11, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet to focus on disaster prevention

‘ACTION CABINET’ After swearing in the new Executive Yuan yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou apologized for the veil of secrecy that had been drawn over the process

By Ko Shu-ling and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

President Ma Ying-jeou, left, and Premier Wu Den-yih exchange opinions at a joint press conference at the Presidential Office yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

Swearing in his new Cabinet yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) denied that the Cabinet reshuffle was aimed at winning December’s local elections, saying that one of the new Cabinet’s main tasks would be to enhance disaster-prevention measures after Typhoon Morakot wreaked havoc in southern Taiwan last month, claiming at least 619 lives.

Leading incoming Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Vice Premier Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Presidential Office Secretary-General Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) in a meeting with the media at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon, Ma said he was not so “short-sighted” as to reorganize the Cabinet for the purpose of winning the year-end elections.

“This new team is an ‘action Cabinet,’” Ma said. “It has the ability to execute policy, be competitive and exercise soft power.”

Ma said he had high expectations for the new Cabinet and he hoped it would take the public’s interests to heart.

Many challenges lay ahead, the president said, such as completing post-Morakot reconstruction work, improving disaster prevention, flood prevention and mountain management projects, reviving the economy and combating the A(H1N1) swine flu strain.

He added that incisive government action would be essential in reviving the economy.

The president said he regretted having to bid farewell to outgoing premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), who led the Cabinet in resigning yesterday morning to take political responsibility for the typhoon disaster.

Nevertheless, Ma said, he admired Liu’s courage and appreciated his efforts to lay a sound foundation for the economy, social security, cross-strait relations and international relations.

Ma said he had selected Wu as premier because they were “old friends” and Wu had extensive political experience. The president added that he was also impressed by Wu’s “cool-headedness” and professionalism.

Rejecting media speculation that Wu and Liu were on less than cordial terms, Ma said that when he was looking for a party secretary-general during his stint as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman two years ago, Liu recommended Wu for the position.

Ma said Chu was a “likable guy” who had the ability to get things done, possessed great creativity and had a global perspective.

When asked about his administration’s plan to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with Beijing, Ma said he hoped both sides would resume negotiations as soon as possible.

Wu said the new Cabinet would not rush ECFA talks and emphasized that it would adhere to Ma’s doctrine on cross-strait development, which Wu said was to take a “Taiwan-centered approach while furthering the public’s interests.”

“We will exert ourselves in accordance with this doctrine,” Wu said. “Any cross-strait agreement must be signed under the following conditions: the country needs it, the people support it and the legislature supervises it.”

Ma also rebuffed speculation that Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) had been kept in the dark about Liu’s resignation.

Ma said Liu told Siew about his intention to resign the day after he had informed the president in the middle of last month.

In response to complaints from reporters about a lack of ­transparency over the Cabinet reshuffle, Ma apologized for the secrecy, saying he had wanted to protect the morale of Cabinet officials preoccupied with relief efforts.

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