Tue, May 06, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Liu discusses possible salary increases

KEY TOPICS Liu shared his thoughts on Sunday on raising civil servant salaries, balancing Cabinet outreach with policymaking and the recent diplomatic scandal


Premier-designate Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) said on Sunday that he will evaluate the feasibility of raising the salaries of government employees, military personnel and public school teachers after he assumes office on May 20.

“However, no timetable is available at the moment for taking such an initiative,” Liu said in an interview with a cable television station that aired on Sunday night, adding that an overall review is needed before a decision can be reached on the much-anticipated raise.

On president-elect Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) recent remarks that he hopes the incoming Cabinet will conduct grassroots and community outreach programs to better understand popular views on matters of public concern, Liu said he would not force Cabinet members to engage in “long-stay” programs as a way to get close to the public.

In the run-up to the March 22 presidential election, Ma launched a “long-stay” program during which he stayed one or two nights at the homes of selected people in central and southern townships as part of his get-out-the-vote campaign, which allowed him to build a good rapport with many townsfolk in his rival’s traditional vote banks.

“I don’t think that Ma really wants his Cabinet ministers to emulate him and stay overnight at peoples’ homes. I think he just wants to encourage Cabinet members not to stay in air-conditioned rooms all the time and to try hard to tune in to popular demands and mainstream opinions,” Liu said.

Liu further said he expects incoming Cabinet members to not spend excessive amounts of time in social engagement and instead devote more energy to policy planning and administrative innovation.

“I believe that low levels of social engagement will limit unnecessary trouble, inspire the public to lead a simple, frugal lifestyle and contribute to the establishment of clean politics,” Liu said.

Reaffirming his respect for the country’s civil service system, Liu said Democratic Progressive Party members in the civil service need not worry about possible victimization by the incoming government.

“What concerns me most is the recruitment and promotion of outstanding civil servants to suitable posts to achieve our goal of good governance,” he said.

Asked about his views on the Papua New Guinea diplomatic scandal in which approximately US$30 million in diplomatic funds vanished into private hands, Liu said diplomatic work should be carried out with prudence and according to the law to avoid unnecessary financial losses and damage to the country’s international image.

Liu said the unfortunate event could have been avoided if the government had followed existing administrative regulations.

“Given Taiwan’s diplomatic plight, checkbook diplomacy cannot be totally abandoned. But the government should pay special heed to the legality of the methods adopted in relevant operations,” Lu said, adding that the country should also refrain from paying unreasonably high sums to forge formal ties with a single ally.

“We need to weigh all the pros and cons and all possible advantages and disadvantages before paying any bills in order to avoid wasting national resources and to avoid a recurrence of similar scandals in the future,” Liu said.

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