Su laughs off `Chen's executive' fears

TEAM-BUILDING: The incoming premier picked his foreign minister and GIO head, then moved to ease the concerns of a former party chairman that he'll be a puppet


Mon, Jan 23, 2006 - Page 1

Premier-designate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday announced a slew of further appointments for his new Cabinet as political pundits sought to determine what, if anything, the changes would mean for domestic and cross-strait policy.

Su also insisted he would not become the president's "executive director," in an apparent move to allay concerns raised by a former DPP chairman that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) would keep Su on a short leash.

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳) will take over from Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山), reports said yesterday. Mark Chen is expected to be the next Presidential Office secretary-general.

Meanwhile, Government Information Office Minister Pasuya Yao (姚文智) will be replaced by the spokesman for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦).

Su also announced that Chiu Kun-liang (邱坤良), the current president of the Taipei National University of the Arts, will become Council for Cultural Affairs minister.

Su's remarks yesterday were seen as a move to address concerns from former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) that Su may play the same limited role as as predecessor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), because the president may treat him like an executive director, leaving him little room to maneuver.

Lin, who was DPP chairman from 1998 to 2000, released an open letter on Saturday calling on the president and the future premier to follow the model prescribed in the Constitution that governs their interaction.

Lin also suggested that the president keep a proper distance from Cabinet members and top executives of state-owned enterprises. He blamed the unstable administrative system of the past five years on the DPP government's failure to follow the principles set forth in the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the opposition questioned the new Cabinet's ability to have any significant impact, saying the picks reflected Chen's interests.

Legislator Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛), a KMT legislative caucus whip, said the KMT was disappointed that ideology was still the main concern in Cabinet appointments.

She said the KMT particularly regretted the retention of Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) as a result of a compromise with pro-independence factions in the DPP and its pan-green camp ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

Pan added that Tu's educational reform plan had led nowhere, and that as a man obsessed with ideology, he was simply unfit for the job.

"Although Tu has adopted a relatively low profile recently, that does not mean he has changed his mentality and beliefs," she said.

The KMT whip also said that if reports about James Huang becoming the new foreign minister are accurate, it would be another indication that the president wanted someone he could trust to carry out his plans on the diplomatic front.

She added that the opposition would not expect much from the next Cabinet, which is to be sworn in on Wednesday, because Su has already said he would carry out the president's new policy of "active management, effective opening" on cross-strait relations.

Su has retained 12 Cabinet members and replaced nine.

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