Wed, Apr 07, 2004 - Page 3 News List

New interior minister ready for the job

SWIFT APPROVAL There are high hopes that the popular head of Pingtung County will bring renewed vigor to the interior ministry after the assassination attempt on Chen

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pingtung County Commissioner Su Jia-chyuan's (蘇嘉全) appointment as Interior Minister owes as much to his solid performance in the nation's southern county as to the considerable effort he spent in the re-election of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Su's appointment was a swift decision, with approval from Premier Yu Shyi-kun immediately following the resignation of former Ministry of the Interior (MOI) head Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) on Sunday.

Yu Cheng-hsien resigned to take responsibility for the assassination attempt on Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

Su received the nod in recognition of his formidable performance in Pingtung County. Chen had assured Pingtung County residents on many occasions that a person as able as Su would not be neglected.

For many years, Su's approval rate topped those of local government chiefs. With this local support and forceful campaigning for Chen, Su helped make possible an impressive victory over the pan-blue alliance in Pingtung County, reversing the vote of the 2000 election.

A native of Pingtung, the 48-year-old Su holds a masters degree in Public Administration from the National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung.

County commissioner since 1997, Su transformed the relatively undeveloped county into a booming tourism hotspot with large-scale tourism promotions such as the highly acclaimed Pingtung Bluefin Tuna Cultural Festival and the Wind Bell Festival (風鈴季).

The tuna festival was so successful that Su has been compared to Ilan County Commissioner Liu Shou-cheng (劉守成) for his ability to create lucrative business opportunities out of relatively small injections of capital.

The tuna festival and Liu's Ilan Children's Folklore and Folk Games Festival have each generated nearly NT$1 billion in commercial opportunities out of an initial NT$20 million investment.

In addition to accelerating tourism, Su endeavored to rid his county of its mafia-base stigma and greatly reduced the crime rate.

He also started up national-level infrastructure projects, upgrading the county's export processing zone, developing large-scale biotechnology and agricultural science parks and establishing Hakka cultural-revival parks, thus creating lucrative businesses as well as employment opportunities for locals.

According to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (主計處), the income of Pingtung County residents increased by 10 percent last year, the highest figure in the country.

Su's abundant experience in local government has prepared him well for the interior ministry post, considering that the MOI's administration covers the departments of civil administration, social welfare administration, law enforcement and the construction and planning service.

Apart from administrative experience, Su is also a seasoned Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member, and displayed strong political potential as early as 1985.

Su ran for the National Assembly in 1986 and fought with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) assembly members back when they were dismissively known as the "old thieves" -- representatives elected in China before the KMT government retreated to Taiwan. Su asked them to resign.

Su also served two terms as legislator between 1993 and 1997.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday morning announced Su's appointment, which will be effective April 9. He commended Su's comprehensive performance as an administrator.

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