Tue, Jan 24, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Mark Chen confirmed as Presidential Office head

INDEPENDENCE PROMOTER The outgoing foreign affairs minister will back up the president by drawing on his long history of fighting for the democratic cause


The Presidential Office yesterday confirmed that Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) will become the new Presidential Office Secretary-General.

Chen, 69, has been a persistent Taiwan independence promoter since the 1970s, when he studied in the US. The prominent former overseas leader of the democratic movement headed the Taiwanese Association of America and the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

He was also instrumental in establishing the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs in the early 1980s, which promoted democratization. It has been widely speculated by local media that his appointment to be the president's No. 1 man could be attributed to his strong sense of Taiwan consciousness, which is important in light of the cross-strait issues the president raised in his latest New Year address.

At a year-end gathering with the media yesterday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said that loyalty, honesty and perseverance are three core principles not only for journalists, but also for members of the administration.

"You have to be loyal to yourself, your work, the land and the people here," the president said.

The Presidential Office yesterday also announced that Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) will replace Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳).

Huang will be officially designated as Minister of Foreign Affairs tomorrow. Since the president announced last Thursday that the new Cabinet will be led by former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), there has been rampant speculation in the local Chinese-language media over who would fill which post in the new Cabinet.

Controversy especially surrounded Huang and Minister of the Public Construction Commission Kuo Yao-Chi (郭瑤琪), who has reportedly been designated to head the Ministry of Transportation and Communication.

Opposition parties have criticized some new Cabinet members for not having adequate experience in the fields to which they have been designated. They have also expressed concern about the president's involvement in the composition of the Cabinet.

The president yesterday expressed deep appreciation to outgoing premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who officially resigned yesterday. Recent public statements by Hsieh have indicated that the president has adopted a more reluctant attitude toward cross-strait issues.

"I hope that Hsieh will have a smooth future. However, all of us are in the same boat. None of us can be allowed to unbalance it," Chen Shui-bian said.

A number of former Cabinet members who had just resigned were designated fully-paid National Policy Advisers to the president yesterday. They include Lin Ling-san (林陵三), Li Chin-Lung (李金龍) and Chang Wen-ying (張溫鷹). Lin Chuan (林全) will be an unpaid National Policy Adviser.

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