Taiwan Premier Lin Chuan resigns, Tainan city mayor William Lai reported to be successor

This file photo shows Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen with Premier Lin Chuan on March 15, 2016.
This file photo shows Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen with Premier Lin Chuan on March 15, 2016. PHOTO REUTERS

TAIPEI -  Taiwan's Premier Lin Chuan has resigned, paving the way for President Tsai Ing-wen to reshuffle her beleaguered government.

Local media said Tainan city mayor William Lai will take over as premier on Friday (Sept 8). Mr Lai is a close confidant of Ms Tsai and is touted as a potential presidential candidate for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2020 or 2024 polls.

The presidential office's secretary-general Joseph Wu confirmed that Mr Lin handed in his resignation to Ms Tsai on Sunday after the National Security Council meeting, adding that Ms Tsai "reluctantly accepted" his resignation.

 In a statement on Monday, Dr Wu said Ms Tsai thanked Mr Lin for his work to push the government's reforms, saying that his efforts have "laid a solid foundation for the success of the new government"

Ms Tsai will hold a press briefing on Tuesday morning.

At a press briefing on Monday,  Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung said Mr Lin wrote in his letter that he has "accomplished" the goals set out in Ms Tsai's legislative agenda since she took office in May last year (2016). They include reforms to the national pension scheme, a new labour Bill regulating off days, and an ambitious infrastructure plan. 

Under his watch, Mr Lin has been plagued by a series of blunders and problems, with many people unhappy with the reforms that have been implemented. For instance, controversial amendments to the labour law have pushed up business costs and left workers with fewer holidays. The recently approved pension reforms will cut monthly payouts to retired civil servants, teachers and military personnel. 

Last month, a human error at a power plant shut down six generators, causing widespread blackout affecting more than six million households and businesses. This also resulted in the resignation of Economic Affairs Minister Lee Chih-kung. Some lawmakers also called for Mr Lin to step down.

A recent poll showed that Mr Lin's approval rating is at 28.7 per cent with nearly six in 10 respondents dissatisfied with the performance of the Cabinet, or Executive Yuan.