Mon, Jul 09, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Analysis: Diplomat criticism `political': analyst

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

As next year's presidential election approaches it is political motives that make outgoing diplomats criticize the government's policies before they step down, political analysts said.

Last week, Taiwan's representative to Singapore, Hu Wei-jen (胡為真), told Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao, a local Chinese-language newspaper, before he left office that he had resigned to become a visiting scholar at Harvard University because he could not accept what he called the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government's "desinification" campaign, or agree with the removal of relics from Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) dictatorship.

Hu's remarks rocked diplomatic and political circles. Some praised Hu -- the son of army General Hu Zongnan (胡宗南), one of Chiang's commanders -- for his courage, while others criticized him.

Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Hu had expressed his dissatisfaction at not being given a new position before he left Singapore, and that he had received a notice to leave his post from the ministry as early as April.

After the DPP came to power in 2000, Hu chose to stay in the government and served as the deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council and as representative to Germany before he took up the post of representative to Singapore.

Political commentator Chen Feng-hsin (陳鳳馨) said that many old diplomats who started work under the KMT's rule found it hard to work for a DPP-ruled government.

"These officials do not know what kind of country they should be promoting because Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) keeps changing his definition of the country," Chen Feng-hsin said.

Chen Feng-hsin said Hu should have quit if he did not identify with the government.

"Hu did not stand up for the things he claims to believe in," he said.

Hu was not the first diplomat to complain before leaving his post. Chen Chien-jen (程建人), the nation's former de facto ambassador to the US, also criticized Chen Shui-bian's administration two years ago as he was about to leave the US .

Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), a political science professor at Soochow University, said that it does not make any sense for Hu or any diplomat to criticize the government in this manner.

"These officials are handed their positions by `political appointments.' They should be aware that they can be asked to leave at any time," Lo said.

"Both diplomats and soldiers should share the same values, which is loyalty to the nation," Lo said. "Loyalty should be their highest principle. Soldiers who defy orders must be removed from service immediately and so should diplomats."

"I suspect that Hu will not be the last outgoing official to criticize the government," Lo said.

Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a professor of public administration at Tamkang University, said that political appointments have been a long-term problem for the DPP government.

"When it comes to appointing officials I think the DPP government has a confidence problem. They continued to use KMT officials and believed they could rely on their professional skills, but it turned out to be the opposite," Shih said. "Former premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and Hu are two typical cases."

But as the presidential election looms, political figures' declaration of loyalty to their potential new boss will become part of the campaign and Hu's case is nothing but politics, both Lo and Shih agreed.

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