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Cabinet reshuffle aimed at enhancing public well-being: premier

2013/07/29 20:05:15

Taipei, July 29 (CNA) Premier Jiang Yi-huah announced Monday a partial Cabinet reshuffle in which both the defense minister and the country's top financial regulator will be replaced.

"The partial reshuffle is based on an overall review of government operations in an effort to enhance public well-being," Jiang said at a news conference.

"It was decided upon after extensive discussion with President Ma Ying-jeou," the premier added.

It marks the first Cabinet shakeup since Jiang took over the premiership in Feburary.

The reshuffle, which involves seven Cabinet posts, will take effect Aug. 1.

Most notable will be the promotion of Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Yang to defense minister and the reassignment of Deputy Finance Minister Tseng Ming-chung as chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC).

Yang will replace Kao Hua-chu, who has offered to resign over the suspicious death of an Army conscript earlier this month, while Tseng will take over the helm of the FSC amid calls for speedier financial liberalization.

Jiang said the reshuffle is necessary as some political appointees will return to teaching posts after their Cabinet service terms expire, while several others want to step down after accomplishing their missions.

Noting that the partial adjustment of the Cabinet lineup is also aimed at better meeting the expectations of the public, Jiang said he hopes the new Cabinet will work even harder to enhance the people's well-being.

Political analysts said the changing of the guard at the Ministry of National Defense (MND) is aimed at alleviating public outrage over the death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu, who died July 4, just two days before he was due to be discharged following completion of his compulsory year-long military service.

Allegations of abuse and misconduct have snowballed in the local media, including claims that Hung's superiors refused to give him water during punishing exercises for carrying a camera-equipped cellphone on the military base.

Both President Ma and Kao have apologized for the tragedy and have vowed to thoroughly investigate the case and severely punish those responsible.

Currently, four military officers have been detained by the authorities on abuse charges in connection with the case, while punitive measures have been taken with regard to more than 20 other officers.

However, the investigation has failed to appease the public ire, with civic groups planning to take to the streets again this weekend after thousands demonstrated outside the Defense Ministry in Taipei July 20.

Yang, 58, will be the first civilian in the Ma administration to head the MND.

A graduate of Fu Jen Catholic University, Yang has a master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He specialized in the study of U.S.-Taiwan-China relations and national security.

He also devoted much energy to the research on building a cross-Taiwan Strait military mutual trust mechanism as well as China's People's Liberation Army and regional security while teaching at local universities and doing research at local academic institutions.

With his long partnership with the MND as a scholar, military sources said Yang is familar with the ministry's operations and has worked smoothly with military staff since assuming his current post.

In the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, Tseng will replace Chen Yuh-cahng as the country's top finacial regulator.

Tseng, 54, served in various banking and financial posts before assuming his current post as deputy finance minister.

The Executive Yuan said in a press statement that Tseng has contributed greatly to improving domestic financial institutions and maintaining financial market order during his tenure as head of the FSC's Inspection Bureau.

Tseng also contributed a great deal to maintaining stock market stability and increase revenues of the national coffers during his service as vice finance minister and executive secretary of the National Development Fund, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Navy Commander Adm. Tung Hsiang-lung will succeed Tseng Jin-ling as new head of the Veterans Affairs Commission, while Lin Chiang-yi, deputy head of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, will take over the helm of the council.

Yan Jeou-rong, deputy head of the Public Construction Commission, will be moved into the commission's top position in an acting capacity, while Steven Chen, a minister without portfolio, will head the Overseas Community Affairs Commission.

Joyce Feng, a National Taiwan University professor, will serve as a minister without portfolio.

(By Claudia Liu, Kelven Huang and Sofia Wu)