Acting COA minister to be officially named to head agency: sources

Incoming Premier Su Tseng-chang will officially name Acting Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) to head the agency after he takes office next week, senior political sources said on Jan. 12. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Incoming Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) will officially name Acting Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) to head the agency after he takes office next week, senior political sources said on Jan. 12.

In addition, Su is expected to promote incumbent Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Deputy Minister Chang Tzi-chin (張子敬) to EPA minister, the sources said.

Su asked several current Cabinet members to be part of his team Saturday after being named by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday following the collective resignation of outgoing premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and his Cabinet, the sources added.

Chen is an experienced academic and an agriculture specialist cultivated by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over many years.

At a time when Taiwan is seeking to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF) from China, Su wants to take advantage of Chen’s know-how, the sources said.

Authorities in Taiwan are deeply concerned that the outbreak of ASF in China could spread to Taiwan and Kinmen, which is only about 2 kilometers east of the mainland Chinese city of Xiamen.

As for Chang, the sources said he has made a significant contribution in the field of environmental protection for a long time and Su believes his promotion will ensures the EPA continues to operate smoothly.

Su is expected to announce that Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) and Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) will remain in their current posts in the new Cabinet.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發), Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) and Veterans Affairs Council Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) will also stay on in the new Cabinet.

Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民), head of the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, Jay N. Shih (施能傑), head of the Personnel Administration, Hakka Affairs Council chief Lee Yung-te (李永得) and Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod (夷將·拔路兒) will also keep their positions, the sources said.

Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) will be named minister without portfolio, while eight incumbent ministers without portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳), Wu Tze-cheng (吳澤成), Wu Tsung-tsong (吳政忠), Chang Ching-sen (張景森), Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶), John Deng (鄧振中), Lin Wan-i (林萬億) and Lo Ping-chen (羅秉成) will stay in the new Cabinet. Chen Mei-ling is also the head of the NDC.

On Friday, the sources said Su will keep the economics and finance team from the previous Cabinet.

Finance Minister Su Jain-rong (蘇建榮), Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津), National Development Council chief Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) and Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Wellington Koo (顧立雄) have all indicated a desire to continue in their positions, the source said.

The new Cabinet secretary-general is expected to be former Acting Tainan Mayor Li Meng-yen (李孟諺). Meanwhile, Science and Technology Minster Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) will take over as education minister, another senior political source said.

Meanwhile, Former Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who lost his bid in the November reelection, wrote on Facebook that he has accepted the role of transportation and communications minister.

Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), former lawmaker from the DPP, who ran and lost the mayoral race in Kaohsiung last year, is expected to be the new vice premier.

Lai and his Cabinet resigned en masse a day after the Legislative Yuan approved the central government’s fiscal budget for 2019.

The outgoing premier tendered his resignation soon after the DPP suffered a crushing defeat in the nine-in-one local government elections on Nov. 24, but Tsai, who stepped down as DPP chairperson on the same day, refused to accept it.

Tsai said she expects the new premier, who has much experience serving in government, to implement policies that share the economic benefits of growth with the Taiwanese people.

Su, 71, served as chairman of the DPP 2012-2014, premier 2006-2007, and chief of staff to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in 2004.

He lost in the New Taipei mayoral race in November.

By Ku Chuan, William Yen, Elizabeth Hsu and Frances Huang