Choice of Taiwan's new premier questioned

Choice of Taiwan's new premier questioned
(Left) Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou bows during a news conference with party officials after the ruling Kuomintang party was defeated in the local elections in Taipei November 29, 2014. (Right) Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou bows after announcing his resignation from the party chairman position during the party's central standing committee in Taipei December 3, 2014.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Presidential Office announced yesterday that President Ma Ying-jeou has named incumbent Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo as the new premier, with Mao set to take office today.

Regarding the public's circulating speculations of Ma choosing between current Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin and Mao, several local media outlets reported that the Presidential Office announced the newest personnel shuffle yesterday, also confirming that the majority of Cabinet members have been asked to keep their original positions, in order to retain the nation's stability.

The Presidential Office confirmed the reports yesterday evening.

"Vice Premier Mao has been in this position for a year and 10 months; he is familiar with political and administrative affairs, therefore he will be able to keep the Executive Yuan operating seamlessly," said Presidential Office spokeswoman Ma Wei-guo.

Mao will take up his post today, during which the Cabinet will meet for the first time since the 9-in-1 Elections.

After receiving his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mao returned to Taiwan and taught at National Chiao Tung University until 1987, when he was appointed to a secretary position in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC). Mao spent the next 20 years in various posts within the MOTC, including the post of transportation minister until 2013.

Closely dependent on the Cabinet to operate, the Legislature yesterday passed a decision to hold off reviewing financial law amendments until the Cabinet has produced a new minister of minance.

Media releases speculated list of new cabinet officials

After the official Cabinet announcement, Mao stated that he has received full authorisation from Ma, and that he will be facing numerous challenges and difficulties in his new position. "Hoping to stabilize the situation, (I) have asked the majority of ranking officials to stay; most have accumulated a sense of trust and understanding in each other, we will endure the hard times together," said Mao.

Despite Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun's earlier statement saying that the new list of Cabinet members will be held back until Mao has confirmed his choices, local media has reported that current Economics Minister Duh Tzyy-jiun will be replaced by Fujian Province Governor John Deng, and that incumbent Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih will be staying at his post.

Mixed reactions from ruling and opposition parties

From Mao's own Kuomintang (KMT), Legislator Lo Shu-lei said earlier yesterday that she hoped the president's choice was "not true," indicating that Mao's performance as transportation minister was less than satisfactory.

KMT Lawmakers Yang Li-huan and Chen Ken-te both praised Mao's stable behaviour in his past positions, with Yang pointing out that the president possibly made the choice with a conservative Cabinet in mind.

"Mao has been interacting nicely with the Legislature, and he is more likely to accept good proposals; he isn't arrogant like some ranking officials, so I look forward to his term in office," said Chen.

"Mao's appointment meant that President Ma was not left with many choices, so he had to find any substitute that would do," said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai, who joked that perhaps even the KMT's own lawmakers will find Ma's new Cabinet members dubious.

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