"At decision-making moments during the [2000 presidential election] campaign, Chiou fully understood A-bian's position. In crisis management and dealings with rival camps, he helped A-bian to make the right decisions."
So said former DPP lawmaker Chien Hsi-chieh of newly appointed secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC) Chiou I-jen's (邱義仁) performance as the head of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) 2000 presidential election campaign. No doubt it was precisely those qualities that recommended the minister without portfolio to the president to head the NSC.
After his appointment was announced on Wednesday night, DPP leaders praised the move and expressed optimism that Chiou would succeed in helping reform the country's intelligence system.
"With his careful judgement, wisdom and talents as a strategist, he is the only member of the ruling party who can assist President Chen to turn the NSC -- long under the umbrella of the military -- into a more professional servant of the president," said DPP Central Standing Committee member Kao Chih-peng (
DPP lawmaker Chou Po-lun (
Despite the plaudits and congratulations, however, Chiou has adopted a low profile, barely commenting on his new job.
He did respond to reporters, however, who asked him to comment on opposition claims that he has been appointed to bring the NSC to heel in the wake of scandals involving the National Security Bureau's (NSB0 secret funds.
"I am being sent to do a job, not to order people around," Chiou said.
Indeed, a senior advisor on the NSC told the Taipei Times that it is the NSB that exercises practical command over the nation's intelligence network. The NSC, he said, consists of top-level policy-making staff, but does not exert managerial control over the system. The true position of the lines of demarcation between the two agencies is only known to members of the highest echelons of government.
Chiou, who was born in 1950 and received an MA in political science from the University of Chicago, was one of the DPP's 18 founding members. He has served as secretary general of the party, DPP representative to the US and as one of the leaders of the New Tide faction.
During the presidential campaign from 1999 July to 2000 March, Chiou served at Chen's request as his campaign manager, reporting to Premier Yu Shyi-kun, who was then chief campaign manager.
Chiou was appointed deputy secretary-general of the NSC following Chen's victory in the presidential election. Known as a strategist and organizer, he was briefly the linchpin of the government's efforts to assert its authority over the intelligence system.
But in the first Cabinet reshuffle in October 2000 following the resignation of former premier Tang Fei (
When Yu Syi-kun assumed the premiership in January, Chiou was appointed minister-without-portfolio, returning to a foreign affairs brief and maintaining close interaction with the NSC.
Chien, the former DPP lawmaker, reinforced his praise of Chiou by underlining his contribution to the DPP's success. "The fact that the DPP did not make huge mistakes during the election campaign was also one of the major factors behind our victory," he said.