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Rumors see King Pu-tsun as NSC chair in Cabinet shakeup
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-06 11:40 AM
The latest murmurings on an impending Cabinet reshuffle indicate that it could come in a two-stage changeover. The first stage of the transition could come with changes in the national security and foreign policy team of Ma Ying-jeou’s administration. De facto representative to the US King Pu-tsung is said to be preparing to return to Taiwan to take over the National Security Council (NSC), initiating changes that might possibly unseat more than half of the most critical officials in place at the beginning of Ma’s presidency in 2008. Other personnel changes would come at various times in a second wave of adjustments.

If King Pu-tsung is appointed to head the NSC, it would probably come in March, with some sources saying that Vice Foreign Minister Shen Lyu-shun could step into King’s spot in Washington.

With wide-ranging replacements seen in the makeup of ministers concerned with finance and the economy, debate is said to be still raging over who will stay and who will go. Rumors regarding a Cabinet reshuffle have been emanating from the Executive Yuan since before the New Year break. As Ma departed Taiwan for a quick three-nation tour in late January a presidential spokesperson said only that Ma would discuss the matter with Premier Jiang Yi-huah and make an announcement at the appropriate time.

Rumors persist that a Cabinet reshuffle could bring adjustments in the makeup of the economic and financial team to add much-needed momentum to Taiwan’s economy. Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch reportedly wanted to tender his resignation in January but was asked to stay on. Chang said Wednesday that there was "no need for more ministerial posts, and no need to make unnecessary changes, only adding to the uncertainty surrounding shifts in that area of the Cabinet.

The second phase of the cabinet reshuffle could come as early as March, with rumored changes to include the Ministry of Science and Technology and the head of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA).

Cyrus C.Y. Chu, Minister of the National Science Council, is said to have already submitted a written resignation, although sources in the Executive Yuan say they have "not heard" any such news. Rumors regarding a possible candidate for the post have centered on Minister without Portfolio Simon Chang. Chang said in a recent interview, however, that he was happy in his current position and was not interested in anything else.

Others who could be affected in the turnover include NSC Secretary-General Yuan Chien-sheng and the de facto representative to the UK. Vice Foreign Minister Shih Ya-ping has been mentioned as a possible for the UK post but has said emphatically that he "knows nothing about" such a move.

Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai, a close confidante of President Ma, could also be on her way out. Lung’s personality and administrative policies have caused considerable controversy and brought criticism in the arts community as well as in the Legislative Yuan, and she could also be targeted for replacement.

In addition, minister without portfolio Yang Chiu-hsing will soon resign his position to run for mayor of Kaohsiung while Chien Tai-lang, Deputy Secretary-General of the Executive Yuan, will step down to contest the election for Pingtung County magistrate. Their expected departures will clear up more space for adjustments in the Executive Yuan.

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