Sun, Apr 11, 2004 - Page 3 News List

New foreign affairs minister announced

REPLACEMENT Chen Tang-shan will take over from Eugene Chien as minister of foreign affairs after Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday reluctantly approved his resignation

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker and former Tainan County Commissioner Mark Chen (陳唐山) will succeed Eugene Chien (簡又新) as the new foreign minister, the Cabinet announced late last night.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday morning approved the resignation of Chien, who quit over what Chien called the ministry's mistakes leading to the resignation of American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairwoman Therese Shaheen.

Yu, however, expressed the hope that Taiwan's top representative to the US, Chen Chien-jen (程建人), would stay on until next month.

Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) told a press conference yesterday morning that the premier hoped to find Chien's replacement as soon as possible.

"We will desperately need a replacement because of the upcoming presidential inauguration. There are many things that need to be taken care of, including the reception of foreign guests," Lin said.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is scheduled to be sworn in for his second four-year term on May 20.

Lin said that the premier reluctantly accepted Chien's resignation yesterday morning after three failed attempts to persuade him to stay until May.

Chien, who tendered his resignation on Friday, was the fifth senior government officials to step down following the highly controversial presidential election on March 20.

Shaheen, citing family reasons for her resignation, had reportedly been asked to step down for sending a congratulatory note to Chen Shui-bian on his re-election victory before the White House had issued an official statement.

Chien said on Friday that the ministry had overlooked certain procedures and failed in its supervision of the AIT. He said that this had been a contributing factor in Shaheen's resignation.

Lin, however, said that the premier's acceptance of Chien's resignation was not based on one isolated case such as Shaheen's departure.

"It is an administrative officer's own decision whether he should take responsibility for certain decisions or polices he made," Lin said. "Our stance is that we leave them ample room to make their own judgments."

While Chen Chien-jen has also offered to resign, Lin said that the premier expressed his wish that he would stay on until May 20.

In Washington, Chen Chien-jen yesterday reiterated his plans to retire, saying he wants to have left Washington by the time Chen Shui-bian is inaugurated.

Lin also dismissed speculations in the media that Vice Premier Lin Hsin-i (林信義) had tendered his resignation and that Council for Hakka Affairs Chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) would take his place.

"The vice premier did offer to resign before the presidential election, but has not mentioned it again since then. I don't expect to see any more changes to the Cabinet line-up before May 12," Lin said.

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