Premier-designate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday unveiled his choices for transportation, finance, economics and interior ministers as well as Government Information Office chief.
Speaking to reporters outside his apartment in Taipei, Su confirmed he has invited former Mainland Affairs Council chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to be vice premier based on her credentials in cross-strait and economic affairs.
Su said Tsai, now a DPP legislator-at-large, has accepted his invitation.
Also, he has named Public Construction Commission Chairperson Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) as transportation minister; Bank of Taiwan Chairman Lu Chi-cheng as finance minister; and Taiwan Power Company Chairman Hwang Ing-san as economics minister.
In addition, Su asked Deputy Cabinet Secretary-general Liu Yu-shan (劉玉山) to serve as Cabinet secretary-general and former Taipei County magistrate Wu Tze-cheng to succeed Kuo as head of Public Construction Cokmmission.
The media reported that DPP Secretary-general Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) and DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsan will become interior minister and Government Information Office director, respectively.
Su said Tsai's intelligence and professional competence make her a top choice for the vice premier post.
Tsai, 50, who earned her doctoral degree at London School of Economics and Political Science, was believed a co-author of former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) "special state-to-state" theory when he redefined ties between Taiwan and China 1999.
Before taking the helm of the Mainland Affairs Council in 2000, Tsai worked as a National Security Council (國家安全會議) adviser and law professor. She also played an essential role in Taiwan's negotiations to gain accession to the World Trade Organization.
"It is hard to paint the Cabinet shuffle in mathematical terms," Su said. "I'm seeking to put the right person in the right position."
Su added that incumbent financial and economic ministers Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) and Lin Chuan (林全) will both work as ministers without portfolio, after seeking unsuccessfully to retain Lin. Council for Economic Planning and Development Chairman Hu Sheng-cheng (胡?正) will stay on, Su said.
The appointments of Su and Tsai as premier and vice premier met with positive responses from two U.S. academics.
Professor June Teufel Dreyer of the University of Miami said that Su and Tsai are "wise choices."
Su is a person whose loyalty President Chen can count on, Dreyer said, while Tsai is the perfect complement to Su: "highly intelligent, hard-working and sharing the president's principles." The three will make an excellent team, she added.
Chen has said he will devote his remaining tenure as president to promoting a new constitution through a referendum, in an attempt to straighten out blurred responsibilities between different branches of the government before he retires in May 2008.
Alan D. Romberg, senior associate and Director of the East Asia Program of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a U.S. think tank, said Su and Tsai will make a "formidable combination" in terms of intelligence, talent and experience.
But he also said that a key factor on their ability to have an impact in the next few years will be the relationship between the president, the premier, the Legislature and the ruling DPP.
A key factor, Romberg noted, will be how Su, Hsieh and other possible DPP candidates in the 2008 presidential election will see the links among these various modes of power, especially over the question of who is to set policy.