Amid the political storm created by a corruption scandal involving former Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih, people are watching to see who will be chosen by President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Sean Chen to replace Lin.
It goes without saying that putting the right person in the right position is the key to good governance. Picking the right person depends on the bosses' discernment, insight and their ability to control their staff.
Over the past few decades, the best-remembered Cabinet secretary- general was Wang Chao-ming, who served under Premiers Lee Huan and Hau Pei-tsun. Neither Lee nor Hau got along well with then President Lee Teng-hui. However, the humble and unassuming Wang did his job well, maintaining government stability while promoting policies that served the country and the people well.
Wang is now remembered as a selfless and competent coordinator in the Cabinet to whom "power was like a cloud" and "personal gains were not on his mind."
During the eight-year administration of former President Chen Shui-bian, there was a rotation of eight Cabinet secretaries-general as through a revolving door. None of them was like Lin Yi-shih who knew how to fawn on the boss while lining his own pocket.
The first two premiers in the Ma administration were both experienced bureaucrats who understood their job and did it well. They worked for the premier, not for themselves.
Premier Sean Chen appointed Lin to serve as Cabinet secretary- general not because of Lin's administrative experience but because of his deep background in the Legislature.
But Chen did not expect that Lin would use his Cabinet position to secure personal gains -- a practice that Lin developed back when he was a Kuomintang (KMT) legislative caucus whip.
The Lin scandal reveals one fact -- the ruling KMT, the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan were blind and deaf in their choice of such a figure. It also begs the question of why Lin was selected for such a critical post.
Was it because Ma and Chen's choices were limited to a small pool of talent? Or was it because they simply would not listen to honest suggestions, preferring to be "blocked" by someone like Lin whose talent was to cater to his bosses' wishes?
In spite of Ma's repeated apologies over the Lin scandal, it is imperative that the president reflect on whether he had been listening only to obsequious remarks about him and his government. He must also determine whether he chose Lin because the talent pool was too small.
This is important because these two yardsticks can be used to select Lin's replacement.
Chen needs to know that in the administration of power, the most important talent is selecting the right person for the job.
The point is to have a really competent person to fill the post -- not to restrict the choice to friends or family members.
If neither Ma nor Chen knows where to find such a person, it may be because they are rather "closed-in" leaders or do not have enough self-confidence.
If the premier remains bogged down in the mire amid the corruption storm, it would be even more difficult for the whole administrative team to move forward. (Editorial abstract -- July 5, 2012)
(By S.C. Chang)