New Cabinet almost complete, old one to resign today

By Shih Hsiu-chuan, Mo Yan-chih and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters

Thu, Feb 07, 2013 - Page 1

The new Cabinet to be led by premier-designate Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) is nearing completion, with 12 positions filled and Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) set to assume a caretaker role during the Lunar New Year holiday before Jiang’s team is sworn in on Feb. 18.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is scheduled to approve the resignation of Chen’s Cabinet this morning following the weekly Cabinet meeting, where Chen’s team of 89 political appointees are to resign en masse.

That will leave the Chen Cabinet in a caretaker mode until Jiang, vice premier-designate Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) and the other new members take the oath of office at the Presidential Office.

The Chen Cabinet is likely to avoid making any major policy decisions or significant appointments in the interim.

The Executive Yuan yesterday announced four more appointments: Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) was tapped to replace Huang Min-kung (黃敏恭) as Executive Yuan deputy secretary-general and Greater Taichung Deputy Mayor Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) will succeed Chien.

Huang’s appointment has fueled speculation that competition for the leadership of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the party’s nomination for the 2016 presidential election is intensifing following Jiang’s appointment, because Huang is considered a close ally of New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫).

Public Construction Commission Deputy Minister Chen Chwen-jing (陳純敬) will become deputy minister of transportation and communications, replacing Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時), who was promoted to head the ministry after Mao was appointed vice premier, the Executive Yuan said in a statement.

Presidential Office spokesperson Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) has been named vice minister of the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission and will be replaced by deputy spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏).

Lee said she was honored to take up the post and promised to work hard.

“A spokesperson’s job is to communicate with the press. It’s a 24-hour service, and I expect to become the catalyst for communication between the president and the press, allowing the two sides to understand each other better and offer quick responses to the press’ needs,” she said at KMT headquarters.

Lee, who covered the Presidential Office beat when she was a Central News Agency reporter, will be the office’s youngest spokesperson.

She said that neither gender nor age should be the focus of the post.

KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) will replace Lee, according to Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑), director of the KMT’s Culture and Communication Committee.

Hsiao praised Yin for demonstrating great political judgement and executive skills, and said he expected him to revitalize the party’s 100-year-old organization and attract younger members to the party.

Both Yin and Lee served as campaign spokespersons for Ma’s last presidential campaign. Yin, 30, also serves as the director of the KMT’s Youth Corps.

The reshuffle has included new appointments to 12 positions at vice-ministerial level or above, along with appointments announced earlier in the week, including Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) as minister of economic affairs, Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) as minister of the Council for Economic Planning and Development and Schive Chi (薛琦) as a minister without portfolio.

Central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) has been appointed for a fourth term.

Financial Supervisory Commission Vice Chairwoman Lee Jih-chu (李紀珠) has also been named chairperson of the Chunghwa Post Co, leaving her position vacant.

Sean Chen’s resignation on health grounds was accepted by Ma on Jan. 28.

Jiang has spoken to each of the Cabinet officials who have been reappointed to thank them for their work over the past year and to say he hoped they would continue their efforts, the Executive Yuan’s statement yesterday said.

Meanwhile, a public opinion poll shows the public has been less than impressed with the new Cabinet nominations, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday, adding that the timing of the reshuffle was problematic.

The 11-day window between the resignation of Sean Chen’s Cabinet and the inauguration of the new Cabinet could leave the administration paralyzed during the Lunar New Year holiday and unable to deal with national affairs such as commodity price stability, transportation, food safety, national defense and public safety, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who presided over the party’s Central Standing Committee yesterday in place of DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who is in Japan, ordered the establishment of a task force to monitor domestic affairs during the holiday, Lin said after the meeting.

An opinion poll conducted by the party’s Public Opinion Survey Center found that 73 percent of respondents said they disliked the Presidential Office’s announcement of the Cabinet reshuffle with a late night press release, Lin said.

Almost half of those polled, or 48.4 percent, said they were not confident about Jiang’s performance, Lin said.

The poll showed a general lack of confidence in the new Cabinet and reflected doubt about the way the reshuffle was handled, Lin said.

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said she did not want to speculate how the new Cabinet would perform, but Ma’s personnel decisions were questionable.

“It seems to me that, when it comes to forming a Cabinet, Ma has always ignored the ratio between genders, the ratio of Cabinet members from northern and southern Taiwan, as well as the ratio of members of Taiwanese and mainlander descent,” Lu said in response to a reporter’s question.

On the government’s plan to promote the establishment of Taiwan and China’s representative offices on each other’s territory, Lin Chun-hsien said the DPP advocated a four-point principle.

“The mission of the offices should be clear and they should be reciprocal. Operation of the offices should be transparent and monitored by the Legislative Yuan and should be substantially beneficial to cross-strait exchanges,” he said.