Ma, Chen urge unity, action from Cabinet

The China Post news staff

President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday he expected the new Cabinet to hit the ground running and play the role of a resourceful “storyteller” in communicating with the public. Meanwhile, Premier Sean said he believed Cabinet members can work better with the Legislature and deal with the people more skillfully after training. Addressing members of the new Cabinet in the last of a series of several workshops designed for the ministers, the president told them to get busy immediately. “Newlyweds are entitled to honeymoons, not so the new Cabinet,” Ma said, stressing the transition between the old and new Cabinets must be “seamless and flawless” as far as the country’s national defense, finances, internal affairs, and economy are concerned. The reason is that whether or not there is a change of government or a replacement of the Cabinet, the people go on living their daily lives, he explained, adding “time never waits for anybody.” “This is the reason why we are using a veteran skipper to lead new hands,” he said in a speech entitled “My Expectations on the Executive Team,” adding “while we would like to have an experienced person to steer the ship,” the government also hopes for an injection of new blood, that is, people with drive and new ideas. Ma expressed his hope that all members of the new Cabinet will faithfully perform their duties, work with each other as a team, properly use the country’s diversified media to strengthen the government’s communication with the public, and give the people a feel of the government’s administrative accomplishments, in order to usher in another “golden decade” for Taiwan.

Elaborating on government communication with the citizenry, Ma told the ministers to play the role of a “storyteller.” “Officials should try to move the people by telling them touching stories, using adequate information and displaying sincerity, in communicating to them what government policies are about,” he explained. Comparing the government to a baseball team, Ma said the qualities he expected of the ministers included good judgment, an acute awareness of what is going on, and an ability to respond quickly and work fast. A Cabinet with these qualities is a “most reassuring Cabinet” capable of bringing about stability and achieving excellence, he added. Premier Sean Chen also stressed the importance of communication.

“Communicating with the Legislature is very important, and it is necessary to skilfully communicate with the people, too,” Chen said, adding he believed Cabinet members will become “much more competent after their tempering” at the workshops. Centering around communication, the nine-hour series of workshops covered such topics as “communicating with the media,” “communicating with the public,” “communicating with the legislature,” “how to strengthen inter-departmental coordination and cooperation,” and “internal control and risk management.” The ministries must let the public understand their policies, including what is chewed over and then relayed to the people by the media, Chen said, calling it an “important process.”

Commenting on the issue of policy making, Chen said he hoped that none of the systems and regulations will be a result of “rash” decisions on his watch. Executive departments must evaluate the possible impact of different proposals before arriving at decisions, he explained.