New lineup prepares for 2004 contest

NEW FACES: The president replaced the head of the nation's spy agency and his vice minister of national defense in a move officials believe is aimed at getting ready for the 2004 election

By Lin Chieh-Yu and Ko Shu-Ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Wed, Jan 22, 2003 - Page 1

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) announced a minor reshuffle of senior officials last night, a move DPP brass say is aimed at preparing for the 2004 presidential election.

"It is obvious that Chen has already drawn up his presidential campaign schedule and that he is putting his top strategist in the appropriate post to provide assistance and lead his campaign staff," DPP lawmaker Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) told the Taipei Times.

In the reshuffle, current National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) will succeed Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟) as Presidential Office secretary-general.

A Presidential Office news release announcing the changes said that Chen Shih-meng will be invited to serve as a senior adviser to the president.

Vice Minister of National Defense Kang Ning-hsiang (康寧祥) will succeed Chiou at the NSC, and senior adviser to the NSC Lin Chong-Pin (林中斌) will take over from Kang.

Chiou is regarded as the DPP's top strategist and a seasoned politician with experience in important posts in government and the party.

"Chiou is the best consultant to head any organization. Leaders always need to consult him," DPP legislative caucus leader Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said. "His quick wit, reliability, and political judgment are assets to the party."

Chiou has been dubbed "the permanent secretary-general," with his previous posts including secretary-general of the DPP, secretary-general to the premier and secretary-general of the NSC. He will become Presidential Office secretary-general on Feb. 1.

The Presidential Office recently denied reports that President Chen planned to reshuffle the four major secretary generalships: those of the Cabinet, the DPP, the NSC and the Presidential Office.

Sources at the Presidential Office told the Taipei Times that Chen Shih-meng will also be assigned to serve as superintendent of the DPP's Ketagalan Academy (凱達格蘭學院), which will be established after the Lunar New Year.

This institute is the brainchild of President Chen, also the DPP's chairman, and is expected to nurture politically adept officials for roles in the DPP administration.

Kang, 65, is the country's first true civilian ministerial-level official in the Ministry of National Defense. He was promoted to vice minister on June 1 last year, after nine years as a member of the Control Yuan, where he specialized in defense. He had previously been a lawmaker for 12 years, during which he spent a great deal of time on military affairs.

Lin, former vice chairman of the Cabinet's Mainland Affairs Council and currently a senior adviser to the NSC and a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University, is a well known cross-strait affairs analyst.

He enjoys a strong reputation in both political and academic circles for his in-depth research on the People's Liberation Army and his ability to forecast internal changes in China and developments in cross-strait relations.

Meanwhile, Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday appointed General Teng Chu-lin (鄧祖琳), director of the Ministry of National Defense's Political Warfare Bureau, as the new chairman of the Veterans Affairs Commission, effective Feb. 1.

Yu approved on Monday the resignation of outgoing commission chairman Yang Teh-chih (楊德智), who had resigned for health reasons.

Yu expressed his gratitude for Yang's contribution over the past 32 months and praised Teng's extensive military experience, which he said is necessary for his new job.

"I believe he'll do a good job in taking care of the lives of veterans who have spent the golden years of their lives serving the country," Yu said.

Teng, 61, has served as the commander-in-chief of the army's airborne troop command and the army's sixth legion, the deputy commander of the ROC army and vice chief of the general staff of the Ministry of National Defense. He has also served as the principal of the Chung Cheng Armed Forces Preparatory School and the Political Warfare College.

Yu also took the opportunity to dismiss media reports that he had originally planned to appoint a civilian to head the commission.

"Although most civilized and democratic countries have civilians leading the armed forces or veterans' associations, no existing rules stipulate that the head of the commission should be a civilian," Yu said. "I thought it might be a better idea to have someone who knows a lot about the military and who knows how to take care of its needs."

Yu added that it does not mean that civilians will not be able to break into the unit.

"I can see a civilian heading the commission in the future when the national defense system completes its reform and the administration becomes politically neutral," he said.

Yu also dismissed media speculation that the Cabinet would soon be reshuffled to replace officials in charge of finance.

"I've never given it any thought," he said. "My idea is that stability outweighs everything else."