ANALYSIS: Reshuffle may have compromised Cabinet*





By Mo Yan-chih
Saturday, Sep 12, 2009, Page 3

The new Cabinet line-up failed to bring a refreshing change to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, which could limit its performance, analysts said.

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) finalized his Cabinet line-up and unveiled the list on Wednesday night, two days after Ma announced Wu’s appointment. Twelve portfolios were replaced, with about two-thirds of the Cabinet members staying on.

Cabinet officials are under heavy pressure because of the much-criticized response to the Typhoon Morakot disaster, including secretary-general of the executive yuan Hsueh Hsiang-chuan (
薛香川), minister of national defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) and Council of Indigenous Peoples minister Chang Jen-hsiang (章仁香), lost their posts as expected.

Not all newly appointed officials were new faces. Jiang Yi-huah (
江宜樺) left his position as Research, Development and Evaluation Commission chairman to take over as the new interior minister, while Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) had served as Veterans Affairs Commission director in the old Cabinet.

Minister of Education Wu Ching-chi (
吳清基), on the other hand, is a member of the “Ma troop,” as he served as commissioner of Taipei City’s Education Department during Ma’s tenure as Taipei mayor.

Yang Tai-shun (
楊泰順), a professor of political science at Chinese Culture University, said the new Cabinet wasn’t much different from the old Cabinet, which was formed by Ma’s “sycophants,” adding that the new Cabinet’s performance would depend on the leadership of the premier.

“It is obvious that Ma’s pattern of appointing people in his circle who will follow his commands remained the same,” he said.

Yang criticized the appointment of Jiang, Kao, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (
楊進添), the former representative to Indonesia, and Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥), saying that officials with “mediocre” records would make it difficult for the Cabinet to improve.

Political critic Shih Cheng-feng (
施正鋒) of National Tung Hua University also disapproved of the appointment of Jiang, saying that as an academic with little experience in administrative affairs, it would be difficult for him to head the Ministry of Interior and handle the wide scope of affairs in what is called “the largest ministry” of the Cabinet.

Shih said the Wu Cabinet would be able to implement Ma’s policies more efficiently, but could only be of limited help in raising Ma’s approval ratings if the president failed to demonstrate his own vision and present better policies for the nation.

Ma and Wu Den-yih held a press conference on Thursday to introduce the new Cabinet. Calling the new team “the action Cabinet,” the president said its major task was to enhance disaster-prevention measures.

Ma denied the Cabinet reshuffle was aimed at winning local elections in December.

Shih, however, said the new team would be an “election Cabinet,” and one of Wu Den-yih’s main tasks would be to raise Ma’s support rate and assist him with his plans for re-election.

Wang Yeh-lih (
王業立), a political science professor at National Taiwan University, said the new Cabinet failed to show Ma’s determination to pursue administrative reform, adding that it lacked new faces and talent.

There will be no “honeymoon period” for the new Cabinet, and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will suffer a big loss in year-end elections if the new Cabinet fails to learn from past mistakes and continues to ignore the public’s voice, he said.
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*Taipei Times》2009/9/12