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Taiwan's New Cabinet Takes Office
Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/eastasia/view/1254926/1/.html
Source Date: Monday, February 18, 2013
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: China
Created: Feb 18, 2013

TAIPEI: Taiwan's new cabinet took office on Monday amid high expectations.

It's hoped the new team will shore up President Ma Ying Jeou's record low popularity.

But analysts say it would take more than a cabinet reshuffle to restore public confidence.

The new cabinet let by Premier Jiang Yi Huah has a daunting mission to revive the island's sluggish economy, a task which the previous cabinet had failed.

But critics doubt that the new cabinet has what it takes to do the job.

Wu Rong I, Chairman of Taiwan Brain Trust, said: "Aside from the premier and vice premier, Economic Planning and Development Council Chairman Kuan Chung Ming has little experience in politics. So does the economic minister. The economic ministry is a huge institution, but Chang Chia Juch has no connection to the ministry whatsoever. So it's going to be very hard for him to coordinate and make policies."

As a former political science professor, Premier Jiang's leadership also raises questions.

A recent survey showed only 19 per cent of Taiwanese thought Mr Jiang was suitable for the job.

The 53-year-old is Taiwan's youngest premier in half a century with only five years of government experience

But analysts say the real problem lies with President Ma himself.

Professor Chen I Hsin of Tamkang University said: "I don't believe the problem lies with the cabinet members. As long as they're put in the right place, anyone can serve his nation. But President Ma didn't give them full power to do what needs to be done. Mr Ma also fails to bring the former premier back on track when he deviated from the policies. That is the president's duty."

President Ma's leadership has often been criticised as weak and inconsistent.

His popularity recently plunged to a record low of 13 per cent.

Even members of his Kuomintang party are losing patience.

Now President Ma is counting on the new cabinet to restore public confidence.

But analysts say it's more important for the president to change.

Professor Chen added: "The Ma administration now needs solidarity. If you don't make good use of your political resources, your opponents can easily challenge you. You must use your resources to win over allies and consolidate your power. In politics, you can't rely on ideals only. Sometimes it's about give and take."

With only three years left in his second term, analysts are urging President Ma to accelerate all the necessary reforms to turn the island's economy around. And how the reforms fare will determine President Ma's legacy, as well as the future of the Kuomintang.

- CNA/de
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