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Taiwan president heeds calls with Cabinet shake-up

Publication Date : 20-09-2012


In an apparent nod to the call for changes in the face of fresh economic headwinds, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday reshuffled his Cabinet two days after the government decided to halt a planned power price hike.

The move also came just days before the Legislature votes on a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet proposed by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Reported changes are limited to the shake-up of foreign and mainland affairs as well as national security officials, with those involved mostly being promoted or given new posts.

Economic and financial ministers are not included in this round of changes, which put several officials widely seen as Ma's trusted aides to key positions.

Foreign Minister Timothy Yang will take up the position of Presidential Office secretary-general, senior Kuomintang (KMT) officials said yesterday. He will be replaced by David Y. L. Lin, Taiwan's representative to the European Union and Belgium. Lin, 62, previously served as vice minister of foreign affairs from 2008-2010.

Yang's appointment will fill a vacancy left after incumbent Presidential Office secretary-general Tseng Yung-chuan, a ruling KMT vice chairman and former deputy legislative speaker, was tapped to concurrently serve as new KMT secretary-general.

The Central News Agency (CNA), referring to Yang as the minister who “always delivers,” described his new position as a promotion and an affirmation from the “top echelon”.

Ma's longtime adviser King Pu-tsung was appointed as Taiwan's de facto ambassador to the United States. King, a former KMT secretary-general and now the top adviser of the KMT's international affairs department, will succeed Taiwan's incumbent representative to the US, Jason Yuan.

Yuan, 70, will take up a position as secretary-general of the National Security Council after incumbent secretary-general Hu Wei-jen resigned from the post to take a position as a senior advisor to the Presidential Office, officials close to the matter said.

Also leaving is Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), who tendered his resignation yesterday. The incumbent KMT secretary-general Lin Join-sane, 67, will take over Chiang's job as Taiwan's top negotiator with China.

Chiang said earlier in the day that he would formally tender his resignation at an SEF board meeting planned for September 27, along with his deputy, Kao Koong-liang.

Lin Join-sane has previously served as deputy Kaohsiung mayor (1995-1998), vice interior minister (1998-2009) and Cabinet secretary-general (2009-2012). He took up the post of KMT secretary-general in late January this year.

Chiang, meanwhile, will serve as a senior adviser to the Presidential Office.

While the new SEF chairman is not a career mainland affairs official, he is well-versed in the inner-workings of the government, Yen Chen-shen, a scholar from the National Chengchi University's Institute of International Relations, was quoted by CNA as saying. Many experts see Lin as someone who will fully carry out the president's China policy, CNA reported.

National Security Adviser Wang Yu-chi will take over as head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) at the end of September, KMT and government sources said yesterday, amid reports that the current MAC head has been assigned to a new post.

Lai Shin-yuan, the incumbent head of the MAC, has been selected as Taiwan's permanent representative to the World Trade Organisation, replacing Lin Yi-fu, who has resigned, according to the sources.

Ma's appointment of Wang, 43, to head Taiwan's main agency in charge of China policy, is aimed at injecting new blood into the Cabinet, senior KMT officials said.

A politician with a strong academic background, Wang holds a bachelor's degree from National Taiwan University and a master's and Ph.D. from Indiana University.

A long-time trusted aide to the president, Wang served as campaign spokesman for the KMT presidential ticket of Ma in the 2007-2008 campaign and was named Presidential Office spokesman after Ma took office in 2008.

According to KMT officials, Wang has a deep understanding of President Ma's China policy and has helped draft Ma's statements on cross-strait relations.

Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang slammed the reshuffle as “mismatched” and nonresponsive to the public's expectations for policies that will lead to an economic revival.

He said the changes to the MAC and SEF chiefs are long overdue but the reshuffle should not be limited to foreign and mainland affairs as well as national security ministries. Su continued by saying that the DPP is calling for a “Cabinet reshuffle to save the economy.” The Legislative Yuan is scheduled to vote on the DPP's proposed no-confidence vote against Premier Sean Chen on Saturday.


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