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Tue, May 09, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Chang walking an untested tightrope

Chang Chun-hsiung has a front-line role in the incoming administratioin as secretary-general of the Presidential Office. Chang has already found himself under fire in many areas, including the management of Taiwan's first transfer of power; the struggle between DPP party policy and Chen Shui-bian's campaign platform; and the role of the vice president. Chang met with "Taipei Times" reporters

Taipei Times: How do you intend to operate in your position as the secretary-general of the Presidential Office? Will things be different from the past?

Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄): The Presidential Office was previously not open to the public -- even reporters had difficulty covering news from there. This was caused by the outgoing ruling party, the KMT. Because President-elect Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) won the race through a competitive process, he will do things differently than KMT presidents. Chen brought up many different political views during the campaign and now he must cash these "checks." The Presidential Office therefore has to communicate and negotiate with the Cabinet as well as the legislature, to promote Chen's political views.

As secretary-general, I will have to plunge into these affairs to the best of my abilities. I hope those who voted for Chen will feel good about their choice, while those who opposed him can change their mind and support him in the next election.

Although Vice President-elect Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) has said she is like "a deserted concubine left in the harem of despair" (深宮怨婦), I can promise her that the Presidential Office is not a harem, nor am I a harem manager.

TT: Following Chen's announcement that he would not participate in party-related affairs, what is the relationship likely to be like between Chen and the DPP? Will the DPP support Chen's hold on the reins of government?

Chang: Chen declared that he would stay out of party affairs -- which does not mean he is not important for the DPP. On the contrary, Chen's opinions on party reform will prove decisive [for the party].

The DPP was the opposition in the past, but now it has been transformed into the ruling party. The party must justify both its role and organization. One of the crucial aims for party reform, therefore, is undoubtedly to support Chen.

TT: You have criticized the current Cabinet for appearing to "resist" the transfer of power to the new government. How did that happen?

Chang: After the election, President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) assigned officials to brief us on all affairs related to the transfer of power. However, the Executive Yuan did not show any willingness to cooperate with us. Cabinet members even used excuses like "there are no legal regulations [for such moves]," or "there is no precedent."

I therefore had to become a "bad guy" to urge the Cabinet to speed up the transfer. Attitudes appear to have improved since then.

TT: Which aspects of such procedures do you think need to be legislated?

Chang: First of all, government officials need to understand the concept of "being a responsible ruler and a decent administrator." I would ask that when those officials brief me, they should explain right away what kind of crises could occur in their ministries both now and in future -- and what measures they would take to solve such crises. If they handed over that kind of knowledge and experience first, then we could discuss which laws and regulations still need to be written.

Examples from other countries are not always suited to Taiwan. In our situation, we need to pass some new laws regarding important controversial issues, government budgets, the transfer of government personnel and classified documents.

The outgoing government needs to practice self-control before we can have the necessary laws and regulations.

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