Minister of the Interior Lee Hung-yuan (李鴻源) could be the biggest player at the center of a rumored Cabinet reshuffle.
The speculation focuses on the removal of four ministers including Lee, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏), Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) and Minister of Health and Welfare Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達).
Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) hinted in a weekend interview at the possibility of a partial reshuffle, with some reports saying the reshuffle was likely to take place before the Lunar New Year holidays, at the end of next month.
Lee’s initial response to questioning did nothing to dampen the speculation.
“Ministers and executive officials appointed by the government are just temporary employees. We may be asked to leave the post any time. The decision from our superiors may come at anytime. I have endeavored to work diligently, as though each day is my last day on the job,” Lee said yesterday at a meeting of the legislature’s Finance Committee in Taipei.
He was also asked whether the premier wanted him to stay in the job.
Jiang was reportedly dissatisfied with Lee over his lenient approach to tackling unlicensed lodging in Cingjinh (清境), Nantou County.
“We political appointees have our own ideas on policies. If this runs contrary to the views of our superiors, then it’s time to leave. For now, my views and ideas are in agreement with the premier. There is no difference of opinion between us,” Lee said.
However, he then added: “When the time comes, I will think about staying or leaving my post.”
Lee said that he would not enter the race for New Taipei City (新北市) mayor next year, although the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has reportedly considered him a candidate for the post.
Shen and Chang are believed to be in line for replacement because of their handling of the Kaohsiung water pollution incident that involved Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光半導體).
Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) and Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman William Tseng (曾銘宗) were also questioned about the issue yesterday.
Chang said he puts everything into doing the best job possible.
Tseng said: “Timely opportunity got me into this job, but everyone has to depart the stage at some time.”
Over the weekend, Jiang talked about an opportune time for a reshuffle when top officials may depart due to health reasons, or when their temporary leave from teaching at university ends.
Lee’s university leave is set to end in March.