Taiwan Cabinet to resign today ahead of reshuffle

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Premier Lai Ching-te made the announcement shortly after the Legislature passed the central government’s annual fiscal budget for 2019. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) announced on Jan. 10 that he and his entire Cabinet will resign on Friday in preparation for an expected major reshuffle in the wake of his party, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) major defeat in the local government elections on Nov. 24.

Lai made the announcement shortly after the Legislature passed the central government’s annual fiscal budget for 2019.

“The government budget has been passed, and so the time has come (for me to leave),” he said, adding that he expects President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to appoint a new Cabinet soon.

Lai had offered to resign immediately after the Nov. 24, 2018 local government elections to take responsibility for the DPP’s heavy losses, but Tsai refused to accept his resignation and he later agreed to stay on in the interest of political stability and continuity.

On Dec. 7, however, Lai said he would step down “when the time was right” because it was of paramount importance in a democracy to accept political responsibility.

Lai was sworn in as premier on Sept. 8, 2017, replacing Lin Chuan (林全) as head of the Cabinet. Prior to that, Lai had served as mayor of Tainan from 2010 to 2017 and as a legislator from 1999 to 2010.

Speaking after Lai announced his resignation Thursday evening, Tsai commended the premier for fulfilling his goals, adding that although reluctant, she respects his decision to resign from office.

Regarding Lai’s successor, Tsai said she will disclose his ideal replacement as soon as possible.

By Ku Chuan and Ko Lin