Premier sees no need for Cabinet shakeup

The China Post staff

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung said yesterday that a personnel shakeup won’t necessarily secure the accomplishment of goals widely expected by the public, such as improvement of the operations of the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA). Chang made the remarks in response to calls from both the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and opposition parties that a partial reshuffle of the Cabinet is needed to stop the growing complaints from the public about the repeated major delays in train services and upgrade the image of the ruling DPP government. Both ruling and opposition lawmakers called for Transportation and Communications Minister Tsai Duei to step down to assume the responsibility of the repeated delays in the scheduled passenger train services.

Chang said the Cabinet has decided to set up an ad hoc panel to work out effective ways to improve the management and operations of the TRA and secure a comfortable and safe mass transportation system for the public.

As the current director general of the TRA has been sworn in for only two months, there will be a big question mark hanging over whether any personnel shakeup within the TRA or even the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) can secure the improvement of TRA’s operations or management, according to Chang. Meanwhile, Chen Ching-chun, secretary general of the Cabinet, said what is necessary at the moment is a review of “things” instead of “personnel” with regard to the poor management of TRA business operations.

Chen said that as the Cabinet, headed by Chang, has been set up for just three months, it would be inappropriate for it to review the performance of each Cabinet member. Meanwhile, Shieh Jhy-wei, spokesman of the government, also said yesterday that the Cabinet is not mulling any personnel reshuffle, and therefore it doesn’t have any candidate for the new transportation and communications minister, as speculated by the press.

Shieh said the Cabinet has maintained a mechanism for evaluating the performances of all the units under its jurisdiction; both the ruling and opposition parties should be responsible for supervising the overall performance of the Cabinet. Lawmakers of both the ruling DPP and opposition Kuomintang (KMT) urged Premier Chang to replace those Cabinet members plagued by poor performances, especially Transportation and Communications Minister Tsai Duei. DPP Lawmaker Lee Chun-yi, for instance, said that in order to secure a win in the legislative and presidential races in 2008, the Cabinet reshuffle is needed to quench mounting public complaints about the poor operations of the TRA and the Department of Health’s swing in its policy on whether to continue banning the imports of ractopamine-tainted pork. Meanwhile, KMT Lawmaker Kuo Su-chun called for Foreign Affairs Minister Huang Chih-fang to step down to assume responsibility for the “insults” President Chen Shui-bian received during his latest trip to Central America.

But Lawmaker Lee Hung-chun of the opposition People First Party said the best option would be to have the DPP president replaced in the next presidential race.