Outgoing Taiwan premier cites health as reason for resignation

Outgoing Taiwan Premier Sean Chen officially announced his resignation yesterday morning, saying he made the decision due to his worsening health condition.

As part of the resulting Cabinet reshuffle, Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah will replace Chen and Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) head Mao Chi-kuo will in turn be appointed vice premier, while Deputy Taipei Mayor Chen Wei-jen will assume the secretary-general post.

Outgoing Secretary-General Steven Chen will replace James Hsueh as a minister without portfolio, stated the Executive Yuan.

The shakeup will also include the stepping down of Economic Affairs Minister Shih Yen-hsiang and Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Yiin Chii-min.

Deputy MOTC Minister Yeh Kuang-Shih will replace Mao.

Yeh has a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. He served as the chairman of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Co. from November 2010 to February 2012.

Vice Economic Minister Liang Kuo-hsin and Chinese Petroleum Corporation (CPC) Chairman Lin Sheng-chung are tipped as two strong candidates for Shih's position. Both Liang and Lin were unreachable by phone for confirmation as of press time.

"I hadn't really been worrying about how bad my health condition was, and until recently I felt chest pains and heart burn," Chen said at a press conference.

According to Chen, he asked President Ma Ying-jeou to accept his resignation in a meeting on January 16, a day after receiving a health examination.

"I feared that, as a leader in executing national policy, my health condition would burden the country. I am obliged to change my lifestyle for the betterment of my health, but the position as premier does not allow it," he explained.

According to Chen, he has been diagnosed with three highs - high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

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