Taiwan Premier Liu Chao-shiuan under fire for handling of typhoon relief
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2009-08-18 07:16 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Premier Liu Chao-shiuan came under increasing pressure to resign Tuesday amid growing criticism of his government’s typhoon relief efforts.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party demanded an apology from President Ma Ying-jeou and the resignation of Liu and his entire Cabinet.

Liu had shown incredible incompetence during the relief effort, so he was completely unsuitable to lead the upcoming reconstruction campaign, said DPP lawmaker Huang Sue-ying.

Senior leaders of the ruling Kuomintang were worried that public anger over the government’s performance after the typhoon would turn into a threat to the very power base of the party, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported Tuesday.

The KMT leaders wanted President Ma Ying-jeou to stem the damage by taking action, probably by replacing the Cabinet, the paper said. Elections for county magistrates and city mayors are scheduled for December, with the government’s poor image at present predicting little good for the ruling party, according to the paper.

Members of Liu’s Cabinet have also been battling a series of public relations missteps, downplaying the disaster or blaming it on the residents of Southern Taiwan’s mountainous areas.

On a televised talk show Monday evening, a guest alleged that during the worst of the typhoon, Liu went to have his hair colored, while the cabinet’s secretary general, Hsieh Hsiang-chuan, enjoyed an expensive meal at a luxury report.

Hsieh immediately called in to the talk show to say that he was attending a long-planned Father’s Day meal after a long day of work on August 8.

Liu reportedly only went to get a regular haircut, reports said.

The accusations came on top of past remarks by Cabinet members and the general impression that the government had acted too slowly, waiting with sending troops into the mountains to help with relief and turning down offers of foreign assistance.

Former Vice President Annette Lu suggested the postponement of the year-end local elections scheduled for December in favor of reconsidering the use of land all over Taiwan. She said the government should also redraw the country’s administrative map, forming what she called a new “High Mountain Special Administrative Area” to manage the disaster zone.

The former vice president singled out Liu for criticism over his performance during the typhoon relief campaign. The premier should have done better because he had experience serving as vice premier in the wake of the September 21, 1999 earthquake which killed more than 2,400 people, Lu said.

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