Wed, Jan 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Former foreign minister urges staff to support Huang

YOUNG GUN Mark Chen praised incoming minister James Huang and attempted to assuage doubts about Huang's ability to handle the portfolio, given his youth

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

The outgoing minister of foreign affairs, Mark Chen (陳唐山), yesterday urged ministry staff to support his replacement, James Huang (黃志芳), who will be sworn in today, becoming the nation's youngest-ever foreign minister.

Chen, who is slated to become secretary-general of the Presidential Office today, said yesterday that "the youngest minister is coming tomorrow. I hope the ministry's staff can give their utmost support to him. As much as you supported an old minister [like me], you should extend your support to the young minister as well."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday held a series of farewell parties to give send-offs to Chen and outgoing chairwoman of the ministry's Research and Planning Committee May-sing Yang (楊黃美幸), who has been named the new deputy head of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee.

Chen yesterday commended Huang as having an excellent grip on foreign affairs and possessing a delicate sense of judgment on the situation.

Chen's remarks appeared to be intended to defuse doubts that Huang's relative youth would make it difficult for him to command the hierarchical foreign ministry, where many senior officials are Huang's former bosses.

Commenting on his new posting as chief of staff of the Presidential Office, Chen said his nearly two years of experience in the foreign ministry would be a valuable asset to the new job. He also noted that another primary task would be to help promote the constitutional re-engineering project President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) advocated in his New Year speech.

"I believe the reason President Chen appointed me as his chief of staff is my background and experience in foreign affairs, as well as my contacts and connections in the Democratic Progressive Party, which form a good basis for me to liaise between the Presidential Office, the Cabinet and the party," Chen said.

The ministry yesterday also awarded a medal of diplomacy to the outgoing director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Douglas Paal, who is scheduled to leave Taiwan today.

Expressing his gratitude to colleagues and staff at the foreign ministry, Paal yesterday said a good example of collaboration with his Taiwanese colleagues was the acquisition of the site in Neihu for the AIT's new office building.

"While we still await authorization for the building itself from Washington, I am confident it will come in time and stand as a proud symbol of America's long-term commitment to Taiwan," Paal said.

Paal said the US is deploying personnel to fit with Taiwan's modern social, political and economic developments.

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