Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cabinet reshuffle in the offing?

The other day Taiwan News called for the resignation of practically everyone in the Ma Administration in sentiments similar to the ones it expressed previously:
Moreover, as has been observed by numerous disaster response professionals and former related KMT and DPP government officials, the central government disaster response established after the Sept. 21, 1999 earthquake and progressively rationalized under the former DPP administration are still in place but "vanished" after Typhoon Morakot struck Aug. 8. The reason for the deteriorating function of these mechanisms beginning with Typhoon Fung-Wong last July and worsening in Typhoon Morakot lies in the identity of the new leaders at the helm of our disaster response system from President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Liu down.

No matter how "professional" or "competent" KMT senior leaders believe themselves to have been in the 1980s and 1990s during KMT one-party rule, their ingrained bureaucratic, passive, secretive and hierarchal mentality has proven to be dysfunctional in Taiwan's democratic society in the 21st century.

There can be scant hope for the renewal of public confidence in the central government's capability to respond to crises until Liu and other incompetent leaders, including at minimum the ministers of defense, interior economics, foreign affairs, agriculture and justice along with the secretary-generals of the National Security Council and the Executive Yuan. Moreover, the lack of both empathy and political morality displayed by Ma and other KMT leaders will only undermine confidence in their future leadership.

Many Taiwan citizens recall that then Democratic Progressive Party vice premier Yu Shyi-kun resigned office immediately nine years ago after the death of four construction workers who were swept away in a flash flood in the Pachang River after the then KMT-run Chiayi County government, the National Fire Administration and the Air Force failed to coordinate a rescue effort. The subtext in the message sent yesterday by Ma's scarcely veiled hint that Liu and his Cabinet will remain in office indefinitely will be quite clearly read by the rest of the KMT bureaucracy and by Taiwan's public.

That message is simply that while a DPP vice premier resigned after the tragic death of four Taiwan workers, Ma and the ruling KMT do not believe there is any obligation for a KMT premier to step down from office after the deaths of over 400.
As the article observers, so far only the Deputy Foreign Minister has resigned and been accepted -- not because he failed the people of Taiwan, but because the Administration suffered embarrassment in its relations with the outside world. Note that not only did Vice Premier Yu resign over the botched Pachang River rescue but then KMT premier Tang, serving under President Chen, also offered to resign (Tang offer). But that was then...

Ma is in a somewhat awkward position -- during the campaign one of the criticisms he made of the DPP administration was the constant reshuffling of the cabinet. But it has become apparent that heads must roll, as confirmed by Premier Liu yesterday in the news conference:
Premier Liu Chao-shiuan stated yesterday afternoon that his Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) administration will experience a "comprehensive re-examination and reorganization in September" in the wake of intense public criticism of its performance in responding to Typhoon Morakot, whose torrential rains and landslides left over 400 dead and over NT$10 billion in agricultural damage.
For some months several long-time observers I know have been arguing that Ma would restructure the cabinet to bring in a more Taiwanese-oriented crew to address the elections at the end of the year. This typhoon has handed them the perfect excuse.

And no, I don't think the failures here will have much effect on the elections. People here vote locally for local reasons, and flows of cash, patronage networks, and party structure on the ground will outweigh the effect of this mess on the KMT. But hopefully I will be wrong.
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Taiwan Echo said...

Ma Ying-jeou has refused to fire Liu. I am not surprised. He can't find anyone else to replace Liu, because none of them is more moronic than Ma is.

Anonymous said...

I think it's really worth looking back at how Ma Ying-jeou was before he became president so everyone knows what kind of person he is. Watch this video where Ma Ying-jeou is asked whether his special funds is a public fund or is for private use (later in courts, of course, Ma defends himself claiming he never knew special funds were for public use only):

Notice Ma's impatience and his near slouch, rocking back-and-forth. He stinks of arrogance. Of course, this is all so aggravatingly annoying and you want to spit on him because he's of course, uh, either lying or clueless about how he's spending those special funds.

Or how about this editorial in today's Liberty Times:

Ma's announcement of resignation

In April of 1997, a child of a famous singer and TV personality in Taiwan was taken hostage and killed. In the aftermath, protests were held asking for resignation of then Premier Lien Chan. Ma, then a minister-without-portfolio, resigned criticizing the government as selfish and having caused a great amount of citizen anger to accumulate. He claimed to be motivated by "a sense of shame" and his popularity climbed to soaring heights. He also claimed that he would not run for mayor of Taipei. As everyone knows, Ma then went on to run and win over Chen Shui-bian, who after three years of being in office had an approval rating of something like 80%!

What a contrast between Ma's words then and his actions now--refusing to fire Liu and still refusing to admit specific wrong doing or incompetence in his handling of the rescue in this disaster. This guy has long been a disaster in waiting, and it's not just his efforts to disarm Taiwan and push towards cultural and political unification with China that are ridiculous (did people notice that he said the military's main mission should be disaster rescue and that he wanted to decrease combat helicopter purchases by 25% to buy rescue helicopters???). He's also incompetent, arrogant, and worst of all, despite his words to the contrary, has absolutely no sense of shame.

Revist, revist, revist!