Taiwan names first ministers in new Cabinet

Premier-designate announces eight appointments, including cousin of president-elect

TAIPEI • Taiwanese premier-designate Lin Chuan has introduced the first batch of Cabinet ministers, one of whom is a cousin of president-elect Tsai Ing-wen.

On Thursday, Mr Lin Chuan introduced the eight Cabinet members at a tea session with the media. The appointments include Mr Lin Hsi-yao as vice-premier, Mr Lin Tzou-yien as Minister for Health and Welfare, Mr Tung Chen-yuan as Cabinet spokesman and five ministers without portfolio.

The five ministers without portfolio will coordinate and monitor policies such as economics and finance; energy and environment; pensions and personnel; justice and domestic security; and labour and long-term care.

They are Ms Lin Mei-chu, Mr Chang Ching-sen, Mr Shih Jun-ji, Mr Lin Wan-i and Mr Hsu Chang-yao.

Three of the eight were professors while at least two others hold doctorate degrees in their respective fields, according to local media.

BASED ON MERIT

Professionalism, ability and experience are the only conditions I would consider.

TAIWANESE PREMIER-DESIGNATE LIN CHUAN, when asked if naming the president-elect's cousin to the Cabinet would result in a conflict of interest.

Mr Tung is an international affairs expert and professor at National Chengchi University, while Mr Lin Wan-i was formerly a professor of social work at National Taiwan University, reported Central News Agency yesterday.

Mr Lin Tzou-yien is a professor at Taipei Medical University, reported Taiwan News. Mr Shih and Mr Chang have PhDs from National Taiwan University.

Ms Lin, who is Ms Tsai's cousin, also hailed from academia and was the vice-interior minister during the Chen Shui-bian administration.

Asked whether Ms Lin's appointment as a minister without portfolio would lead to a conflict of interest, premier-designate Lin Chuan said she would be serving in the Executive Yuan, not the Presidential Office.

"Professionalism, ability and experience are the only conditions I would consider," the premier-designate was quoted as saying by the Taipei Times.

Mr Lin Chuan also said that the decisions on future Cabinet members are not made by any one person.

"We have a team - I am not going to name everyone on the team, but Tsai and I are both on it - to make proposals and discuss possible candidates," he said.

"Tsai and I often have different ideas, but I have the final say on it," the premier-designate added.

Mr Lin Chuan added that the rest of the Cabinet line-up will be announced in batches by April 20, a month before the new government is inaugurated.

The premier-designate himself was formerly an economics professor at National Taiwan University and led the Ministry of Finance from 2002 to 2006.

Ms Tsai became Taiwan's first female president after leading the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to a landslide win in January.

The former law academic has degrees from National Taiwan University, Cornell University and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Separately, vice-president-elect Chen Chien-jen yesterday visited former president Chen during a trip to southern Taiwan.

Chen, Taiwan's president from 2000 to 2008, is serving a 20-year sentence for corruption during his two terms as president. He has been on medical parole since January last year, reported Central News Agency.

There have been calls for a special pardon for the disgraced former head of state.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline 'Taiwan names first ministers in new Cabinet'. Print Edition | Subscribe