Massive shakeup for Ma Ying-jeou's Cabinet in the making

Over 10 members of the Cabinet to be headed by Premier-designate Jiang Yi-huah are deemed likely to be changed, marking the largest-ever Cabinet shakeup during President Ma Ying-jeou's presidential term, according to political observers.

The major reshuffle is needed to reinforce President Ma's administration team before the first year of his second term ends on May 20, so that the Presidential Office, the Cabinet and the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) can better take uniform steps forward to boost the administration's overall performance, observers said.

Vice Premier Jiang has been appointed by President Ma to replace Sean Chen as new premier. Transportation and Communications Minister Mao Chi-kuo is slated to take over as vice premier. Deputy Taipei Major Chen Wei-jen will replace Chen Shih-kuei as secretary-general of the Cabinet.

In addition, Chen Shih-keui will take over from James Hsieh as a minister without portfolio, with Hsieh to quit and continue his academic career in February.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih has been appointed as new minister of the ministry, and his vacancy will have to be filled.

Furthermore, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang and Minister Yiin Chii-ming of the Council for Economic Planning and Development are expected to step down in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, while some other ministers are also likely to be changed. At least 10 members of the Jiang-headed Cabinet will be reshuffled.

Lawmaker Lai Shyh-bao, now head of the legislative caucus of the ruling KMT, said if the government is to create a fresh atmosphere, it should inject more new blood into the central administration team. "So, when it comes to the size of the Cabinet shakeup, the larger the better," he said.

In terms of key financial posts, Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford and Chairman Chen Yu-chang of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) are expected to stay on, but Chen's deputy Lee Jih-chu is slated to serve as chairman of Chunghwa Post Co., Ltd.

With the massive economic stimulus plan - also known as the Economic Power-Up plan, launched on Sept 11, 2012 - deemed the most important administrative achievement of Premier Sean Chen, the question of who will succeed Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang and CEPD Minister Yiin Chii-ming and keep the plan rolling has become a priority concern for Premier-designate Jiang. Both Shih and Yinn were masterminds behind the said plan.

In related news, Jiang stayed at home yesterday and was busy with deployment of new Cabinet members. His wife told reporters waiting outside the doors of their home that in her capacity as Jiang's wife, she would not like to see Jiang assume the premiership, but from the viewpoint of a national, she would like to see Jiang assume greater responsibility and contribute more to the nation.

As Jiang just hammered out the labor insurance annuity reform program, the first task facing the new Cabinet would be to make the reform program clear the legislative floor well in time. To that end, Jiang must effectively communicate with both ruling and opposition lawmakers and persuade them to support the government's labor insurance annuity reform program, under which the labor insurance premium rate will be boosted sharply to a ceiling of 19.5 percent, making financial burdens on both enterprises and workers heavier than before.

Jiang recently blasted the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for proposing a counterpart labor insurance annuity program that would "drive workers to the corners" on grounds that the DPP proposal would have insured that workers face much heavier insurance premiums than proposed by the ruling KMT.

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