The Presidential Office released a list of 71 non-paid presidential advisers yesterday, including 13 senior presidential advisers and 58 national policy advisers. Among them, more than 40 are former politicians, six are from the cultural or charity sector and eight are educators.
Presidential Office Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) said the selection process began in September and the candidates were recommended by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄).
After “careful discussion,” Ma approved the list yesterday, Chan said.
Chan said the advisers “fully represent Taiwan’s diversity” and “reflect the president’s wish to listen to voices from all walks of society” since they come from different regions and specialties.
The choice to use only non-paid advisers indicated Ma’s effort to reform, he said. Taking into consideration the government’s strained financial situation, Chan said, the Presidential Office has forfeited the NT$61 million (US$2 million) budget earmarked for hiring presidential advisers and selected advisers who were willing to work for free.
The ultimate goal is to amend the Organic Act of the Presidential Office (總統府組織法) to scrap paid presidential advisers, he said.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said some candidates had turned down the offer on the grounds that they had more freedom to contribute to society independently.
Hawang Shiow-duan (黃秀端), a political science professor at Soochow University, expressed disappointment at the list, which she said appeared to be a reward list for vocal supporters of Ma.
Although it is understandable that Ma would use the positions to reward his supporters, he should have appointed people with better qualifications, she said.
Hawang criticized the lack of economists and financial experts, saying it ran counter to the government’s focus on the economy.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said separately that Ma had restored a system frowned upon by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration and that the DPP government’s fiscal budget for advisers had been consistently blocked by KMT legislators.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG