TAIPEI (The China Post ) – Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) stepped down on June 11 in a day-long “marathon” that started at the Presidential Office with the transfer of his duties to his successor, Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), and ended with the year-end banquet of the Cabinet members in the evening.
While Lai will be able to enjoy some relief for now until his next projects start; there is a stark difference between him and Su, who is believed to face even more pressure than what his predecessor had to burden.
Announcing his resignation in response to the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) defeat in the Nov. 24 election, Lai enjoyed wider support among the public from the start, compared to Su, a veteran politician, who nonetheless welcomed his nomination with a large smile.
Lai demonstrated his friendship during yesterday’s ceremony. He applauded his successor, calling him a “terminator” before saying in Taiwanese that Su makes every decision based on his sense of duty rather than his personal benefits or past practices. He is confident in Su’s abilities and commitment, he said.
During his farewell speech in the morning, however, Lai quoted the characters in “The Return of the Condor Heroes,” a famous wuxia Kungfu novel written by Chinese novelist Jin Yong. “It is with great pleasure that we are having this conversation. It is time to part ways now; until the next time we see each other; we will drink more and further our talks,” Lai said, thanking his team. “We will meet again on the way of empowering Taiwan if there is a chance,” Lai added, leaving himself some room for making an eventual comeback.
In contrast, the smiling Su has been busy with recruiting Cabinet members, with many current members showing little interests for the job. Among others, Su already had an hour-long conversation with the Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chun who said on Facebook that she wishes to resign and work in the private sector, leaving the new premier with a headache.
With only three days to complete his new Cabinet, Su could decide to keep some original members — the minister of interior and chairpersons of four financial government agencies under the Executive Yuan — prior to the completion of his recruitment next Monday. The most expect replacements are the heads of the Environmental Protection Administration, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Education; even though the public has also expressed some discontent with such a rush.
While Su posted a Facebook video of “a down-to-earth lightbulb” Friday afternoon as a show of his determination (Su is nicknamed “lightbulb” in reference to his balding hair and affectionate personality within the DPP since the 1980s), the first day was not easy for all that.
It is a critical timing to put so many government agencies together on such short notice. As for Su, who is 72, the new Premier might be better thought of as a “relay player” rather than a “terminator”, considering the number of works on his shoulders for now on.
Seeing the DPP’s major losses in the local election, it is evident that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has brought the “lightbulb” back to light up her way in the run-up to next year’s presidential election. Whether the public takes the bait, however, depends on whether Su eventually succeeds as a terminator before 2020.