Wed, Feb 22, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Speculation mounts of MOFA reshuffle

REASSIGNMENTS:Sources say the men known as the ‘five diplomatic tigers in Washington’ are likely to be among those involved when changes are made in May

By Fan Cheng-hsiang  /  Staff Reporter

A major personnel reshuffle at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) that is expected to take place around May 20 will reportedly involve several key reassignments, including the posts of National Security Council secretary-general, minister of foreign affairs and the nation’s representatives to the US, Japan and Canada, sources have said.

Officials in diplomatic circles said that several heavyweights at the ministry were said to be on the reshuffle list, including National Security Council Secretary-General Hu Wei-jen (胡為真), Representative to Japan John Feng (馮寄台), Representative to the US Jason Yuan (袁健生), Representative to Canada David Lee (李大維), as well as Representative to the UK Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡), who previously served as deputy minister of foreign affairs.

The five senior officials are also known as “the five diplomatic tigers in Washington” on account of their accomplishments in administrative affairs and lobbying efforts as Taiwanese representatives to Washington in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Three decades later, the “diplomatic tigers” remain key figures in the fields of national security and foreign affairs under the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and their future assignments are the object of intense speculation.

This second wave of the reshuffle following Ma’s re-election on Jan. 14 will reportedly send ripples through senior positions at the security council and the foreign ministry, sources said.

For his part, Yuan reportedly told a confidant upon returning to Taiwan to vote last month that he had little desire to hold the foreign affairs portfolio.

As for Hu, who formerly served as the nation’s representative to Germany and Singapore, speculation among diplomatic officials has it that he could be tapped to become the next representative to Washington, a crucial position given the longstanding, albeit sometimes troubled, ties between the two countries.

Should a reshuffle at the top indeed be held at the ministry, Feng is currently regarded as the most likely candidate to head it.

However, such an assignment would be contingent on Feng’s career plans, officials said, as he already only had reluctantly accepted the appointment as representative to the Japan at Ma’s insistence.

Feng’s reluctance to take the job stemmed largely from his concerns for his aging mother, sources said.

Although the spotlight is mostly on the “diplomatic tigers,” officials at the ministry are also paying attention to other key diplomats abroad to see whether they will have a chance to come back to Taipei to work at the ministry.

One diplomat whose name has made the rounds is Representative to Indonesia Andrew Hsia (夏立言), who served as the first deputy minister of foreign affairs after Ma came into office in 2008.

Hsia is also seen as a potential candidate for the top post at the foreign ministry, officials said.

Eranslated by Stacy Hsu, staff writer

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