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Thu, Mar 01, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Premier rejects minister's offer to resign over spill

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) yesterday confirmed that Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) had offered an oral resignation on Tuesday over the recent oil spill in southern Taiwan, which he had rejected immediately.

Chang said he will not allow any Cabinet member to resign before he finishes a comprehensive evaluation on a partial Cabinet reshuffle.

"Until a comprehensive evaluation is made, I won't approve any resignation by anyone, and I don't want to see any more Cabinet members tender their resignation," Chang said.

As to the possibility of reshuffling the Cabinet before May 20 -- the anniversary of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) inauguration -- Chang said he would seriously think about this.

Chang, meanwhile, reiterated that he does not have a concrete timetable for the reshuffle.

"I know that the public has very high expectations of the Executive Yuan, and I'll work hard to maintain the team under the best conditions," Chang said.

Originally, information from sources close to the Presidential Office suggested there would only be a plan to reshuffle the Cabinet after May 20. But the oil spill from a shipwreck on Jan. 14 has led to strong public disapproval of the Executive Yuan, owing to its delayed response to the disaster.

Opposition legislators have recently demanded that the responsible Cabinet members and officials be replaced. Topping their list was Lin Jun-yi (林俊義), head of the Environmental Protection Administration, while Yeh was the other Cabinet member to be named.

A report sent to Chang by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission on Monday also listed Lin and Yeh as two of the officials who should be held responsible for administrative incompetence in the handling of the spill. The other was Lin's deputy, James Lee (李界木).

Both Lin and Yeh told the legislature on Tuesday that they were willing to take responsibility, and Yeh opted to tender her resignation.

Although Yeh's oral resignation has been turned down, sources said that Yeh is still firm about her decision and may tender an official letter of resignation today.

Executive Yuan officials said Chang is unlikely to let Yeh step down because she is not among the officials who have performed poorly.

In addition, they say that taking responsibility for the oil spill does not necessarily mean they have to resign.

Officials said Chang will definitely conduct a Cabinet reshuffle to boost administrative efficiency, but the timing for it is still under evaluation.

On Tuesday, Chang unveiled the standards he is using to evaluate whether a Cabinet member will be replaced. These included good teamwork, the ability to carry out duties, professional ability and public reputation.

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