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New Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun eyeing quicker reform

TAIPEI -- New Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍) said Friday on his first official day in office that he will do his utmost to speed up Taiwan's economic transformation and adjust its industrial structure.

"Taiwan's economic development is like a relay — the head of the Ministry of Economic Affairs hands over the baton to the next one, and that one to another," Duh said at the handover ceremony in Taipei, which was chaired by Minister without Portfolio John Chen-chung Deng (鄧振中).

Taiwan to Get a Jump: Duh

With everyone's help, we can make the country run faster than our global competitors," said Duh, whose predecessor Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) tendered his resignation last week amid a blame game over the series of fatal gas explosions in Kaohsiung late last month.

The gas explosions on July 31, which killed 30 people and left over 300 injured, are believed to have been caused by a leak in an underground pipeline carrying propene.

Describing the ministry as a big family, the 54-year-old Duh said it will take everyone's effort to improve the country's economy.

At the handover ceremony, Duh extended his gratitude toward his 64-year-old predecessor, saying that Chang is still concerned about the country's economic development and that his departure "is a semicolon, not a period, which will initiate another new beginning."

This was the first appearance in a week for Chang, who has retreated to the countryside in southern Taiwan since he tendered his resignation on Aug. 7.

During his 24-minute speech, the outgoing minister said he had a "very solid" time during his 1.5-year tenure at the helm of the ministry and urged Duh not to "choose evasion."

"Duh is young, experienced and capable of taking the post, and handing over the baton to him makes me feel at ease," Chang said.

20 Priority Tasks

Chang said that during the past week, he listed 20 priority tasks for the ministry and handed it to Duh for his future reference.

Among the suggestions were tackling outstanding issues in industrial structure adjustment, the foreign trade environment, the disposal of nuclear waste, industrial land-use plans and investment barriers, Chang said. He did not elaborate further.

The ministry must keep striving to "crawl forward under the rain of bullets," Chang said, referring to what he called the "abominable domestic political environment."

As for himself, Chang said he will "keep resting a while" in the countryside.

Chang stepped down in spite of attempts by Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) to change his mind. Deputy Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) was sent to persuade Chang to stay on just hours after the latter suddenly announced his resignation by issuing a written statement.

Mao repeatedly rang the doorbell of Chang's apartment in Taipei but left after failing to get a response.

Chang explained that the doorbell has been broken for about five years. He was not home anyway, he said, and his wife would not have answered the door if the doorbell had been working because she did not want to have to deal with the reporters waiting downstairs.

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