Mon, Feb 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet shuffle criticized as ineffectual to leadership

THE TAX MAN:Premier Lin is too conservative when it comes to fiscal reform and implementing policy that would stimulate the economy, a former policy advisor said

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Former national policy adviser Wu Li-pei (吳澧培) yesterday questioned the effectiveness of the latest Cabinet reshuffle, saying a comprehensive overhaul replacing Premier Lin Chuan (林全) and ministers who served in the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government is necessary to improve the nation’s leadership.

The replacement of the ministers of science and technology, health and welfare, labor and agriculture on Friday was a belated adjustment to the under-performing Cabinet, while a complete overhaul is necessary to make the government more innovative and Taiwan-centric, Wu said.

While the effect of the reshuffle is yet to be observed, the new ministers’ achievements might be limited since the premier has been unable to prove himself as anything more than a tax expert with questionable leadership, he said.

“Lin does not seem to have the leadership ability to build a united team, with different branches of the government doing their own thing,” Wu said.

Lin, a former finance minister, is an expert in taxation, but is conservative about suggesting innovative fiscal policies needed to stimulate the economy. His refusal to approve budget items he deems unnecessary could impede economic reforms, Wu said.

“A person who errs can still be given an opportunity if he proves suitable for the job, but having the wrong person in the job is unacceptable,” he said.

The scope of the reshuffle is too narrow to remove “old blue men” from the Cabinet — predominantly men associated with the KMT or having served in former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, including Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維), Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) and Veterans Affairs Council Director Lee Shying-jow (李翔宙), Wu said, adding that their acceptance of the so-called “1992 consensus” is at odds with President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) policies.

“A new premier and Cabinet members with a ‘Taiwan mindset,’ executive capabilities and team spirit is key to a bright future,” he added.

Tsai said there was a “lack of talented options” for the Cabinet, Wu said, adding that many officials from former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration and people from the academic and business sectors could be excellent candidates.

Taiwan Society chairman Chang Yeh-shen (張葉森) also said Lee, Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), Minister of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung (李世光) and National Development Council Chairman Chen Tian-jy (陳添枝) should be replaced.

David Lee squandered a rare opportunity to improve foreign relations when the US passed legislation approving high-level Taiwan-US military exchanges and reaffirmed the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances,” Chang said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly demoted a high-level official for suggesting changing the nation’s acronym from ROC (Republic of China) to “Taiwan,” contrary to efforts to “rectify” the nation’s name, he said.

Chiu has done little since his inauguration, Chang said, while his inaction in imposing a travel ban on Ma over his legal dispute has been criticized among the pan-green camp as hypocritical since Chen Shui-bian’s travel was restricted immediately after he left office.

Although Tsai is determined to carry out reforms, her efforts might be fruitless without a complete Cabinet overhaul, he said.

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