Mon, Jul 14, 2003 - Page 3 News List

NSC works hard to open doors to public

Since former Vice Minister of National Defense Kang Ning-hsiang took up the post as the secretary-general of the National Security Council in February, he has initiated many reform plans in an effort to open up the once-mysterious organization to the outside world. `Taipei Times' reporter Lin Chieh-yu spoke with the first-ever NSC spokesman Su Chin-chiang to find out the organization's latest moves

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Taipei Times: Is it true that the National Security Council consulting members disagree with the mobile management and more direct supervision projects initiated by Kang Ning-hsiang since he took the office?

Su Chin-chiang (蘇進強): As the pioneer of Taiwan's political democratization and former leader of Tangwai, Kang is President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) predecessor in democratic movements, and he has been fighting for them for decades. His straightforward nature will not be changed simply because he takes a different post. Since Kang took office, he personally has been going around and inspecting secretarial departments. He's also been going deep into every investigation case that is under the charge of different senior advisors at the council. This is a necessary process for him to carry out reforms in the national security system.

Since the DPP took power, the council has gone through four secretary-generals -- Chuang Ming-yao, (莊銘耀) Ting Yu-chou, (丁瑜洲) Chiou I-jen, (邱義仁) and Kang. In fact, Chuang, the first head after Chen took office, had already brought up the key points for the new council and undertaken system adjustments, but these three predecessors basically allowed those consulting members to develop their duties individually and that is different from Kang's style. It certainly needs time to get used to it.

Some have described the council as unfathomable, saying that its six consulting members have the privilege to talk to the president directly. Therefore, the media has speculated about the council, and some reports about the council are even groundless or made up.

Kang now plans to open the doors and take the initiative to communicating with the outside world, and that is why I have taken the post as the first spokesman for the council to brief the media in light of any national security events, policies and crises. Such a job is a part of the council's crisis-management system.

TT: The Legislative Yuan passed the NSC Organization Law (國安會組織法) in June that allows the council to expand its prescribed number of personnel by 25. How will this affect the role of the council?

Su: Many are surprised that the Legislative Yuan passed the law so fast. In fact, this is a result of Kang's long-term political relationship and influence. He personally lobbied different parties in the Legislative Yuan, including those from the PFP and KMT. I think we all understand that the president needs a complete and efficient back-up team.

The council did not have a specific role in the government during the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kou (蔣經國) era, when it was considered as a political reward for retired senior officials. The council members convened once a year and its responsibility was to discuss the budget. In the latter period of Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) 13 years tenure as the president, the government started to recruit talent. Now the environment has a more profound change, the responsibility of the council must transform from its individually heroic nature into a consolidated platform. In the past, the NSC was crisis management- and issue-oriented. Now Kang hopes that the council may increase its efficiency and offers the president a comprehensive and overall national security and strategy evaluation.

TT: Kang has brought up his idea of the "security community." Could you elaborate on his plan?

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