Another political appointee for position at TSE

By Alfred Lee, The China Post

While the government has reportedly decided to replace China Steel’s chairman for political reasons, another political appointee has moved into a high-ranking position at the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE). Chen Hong-rong, an adviser to the presidential, has reportedly been appointed to the position of director or deputy director of the TSE chairman’s office.

When news of the appointment hit the local stock market, investors were outraged. The outrage was due to concerns that Chen has no solid background or experience in the stock market, according to the local press.

The president’s experience lies in the so-called student movements of the martial law period, Chen’s seniority in these movements was higher than Ma Yung-chen who now serves as an influential assistant in the president.

What the local stock market observers are worried about is that TSE’s decisions have great impact, and should be managed by seasoned professionals rather than by laymen.

Chen has a close relationship with President Chen Shui-bian as he served as the campaign manager in charge of religious relations for President Chen.

Chen Hong-rong was said to have good relationship with “Yi-guan-dao,” a religious sect following the teachings of Confucism, Buddhism, and Daoism.

After the presidential election, Chen Hong-rong was awarded the position of adviser to the president, and enjoyed close relationships with Ma Yung-chen, who is said to be one of the most powerful presidential assistants taking charge of the president’s day-to-day business. Previously, it was reported that Chen Hong-rong would be appointed to the position of vice president of the TSE. That report created a widespread panic on the local stock market. Even Lin Jong-shong, chairman of TSE, did not feel comfortable about that earlier appointment.

After the fanfare aroused on the local stock market broke out on speculations that Chen Hong-rong be appointed as the vice president of the TSC, the Presidential Office expressed its fury toward the arrangement.

Lin Jong-shong, new chairman of the TSE, therefore named Chen as the director of the TSE chairman’s office. Lin actually had no long-term working relationship with the former student movement. It was widely known that the Ministry of Finance (MOF) traditionally played a key role in the appointments of the chairman and key players in the TSC.

Although the TSC is not under the direct jurisdiction of the MOF, the influential officials of the MOF can always “express their opinions” toward the appointment of TSC appointments.

The finance minister, however, is not involved with the appointment of Chen, saying that it’s the authority of TSE chairman himself to name the right persons for the positions at the TSE.

Chen’s appointment has reportedly rekindled a shockwave among the public. Not long ago, local press reported that the Presidential Office was run by a bunch of “boy scouts” — inexperienced but powerful presidential assistants or advisers, who crank out problematic suggestions.