Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday said that Cabinet members should be able to explain the policies they are responsible for, but he also urged them to exercise self-restraint when speaking publicly on government plans outside their domains.
The premier wants every Cabinet member to be brave in defending government policies, in line with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) hopes, Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) cited Jiang as saying.
Whenever a major policy is formed, arrangements should be made for the authorities concerned to provide interviews to the media to explain the policy to the public, the premier said, according to Sun.
However, Jiang also underlined the importance of “discipline” in speaking about crucial policies, and said that those not authorized to talk about policies were advised “not to speak arbitrarily,” the spokesman said.
The guidelines on communications were among 25 instructions Jiang gave Cabinet members during a meeting with them yesterday morning. They were aimed at ensuring unified fronts when policies are presented and keeping agency directors from infighting and privately criticizing each other, as has happened over the past year.
During the meeting, Jiang urged Cabinet members to improve their ability to formulate policy, press ahead with the government’s agenda and seek public support for their policies.
Notable among these points were being sensitive to public opinion, developing esprit de corps within the Cabinet and keeping a finger on the pulse of the public.
Cabinet officials were also urged to be “polite” while interacting with lawmakers, Sun said.
The officials were asked to return lawmakers’ telephone calls within 24 hours and to carry out their promises to lawmakers as scheduled and report progress, Sun said.
“This is basic etiquette,” Sun quoted Jiang as saying.
The premier also said that to improve the relationship between the Cabinet and the legislature, lawmakers should be credited for their help in achieving policy results, Sun said.
At the opening of yesterday’s meeting, Jiang welcomed the six new Cabinet members appointed in the Feb. 26 shake-up, explained the policies of his administration and reiterated to all Cabinet members his criteria on how to carry out their duties, Sun said.
Beyond sharing his personal experience in carrying out policies, Jiang also sought the advice of agency heads on how to speed up the implementation of policies so that the public can benefit from the Cabinet’s efforts before the year-end elections, Sun said.