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June 27, 2017

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Economics minister steps down at the wrong time

Growing weary of Taiwan's political bickering and the personal attacks laid on him after the gas explosions in Kaohsiung, Economics Minister Chang Chia-Juch (張家祝) recently announced his resignation, an action that received mixed reactions from the public.

Chang's resignation comes at an unfortunate time and, looking back, is really not the right move.

When Chang first announced his resignation, many immediately expressed their support for him and affirmed Chang's accomplishments while in office, asking him to stay in the government. Nevertheless, Chang remained determined and would not change his position.

However, Chang's move is not approved of by everyone in Taiwan, and this is exemplified by statements from Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘). In regard to Chang's resignation, he commented that "my mother used to tell me, when you are bitten by a dog, you cannot bite it back." This statement describes Chang's circumstances well — if an opponent has a base character, it is not worth descending to their level for the sake of revenge.

By doing so, you lower your own status. Chang doesn't have to resign. He is the fifth minister to leave the government in the past three months and now is not the right time for him to step down.

As investigations into the Kaohsiung gas explosions have unfurled, some have pointed out that the Kaohsiung City Government, led by Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), may have to take more blame than the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) over this horrible tragedy.

Nevertheless, the DPP was quick to unite under the same banner and launch attacks on the Kuomintang (KMT) central government.

While the DPP was quick to bombard the KMT with accusations of blame, the KMT was stunned and slow to react. Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Lee Yung-te (李永得) referred to the central government as "evil" and DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) labeled Chang as "cold blooded" and "inhuman." Chang is a man of character, but he has been unable to withstand the humiliation, preferring to step down instead.

Chang's post will be filled by Economic Vice Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍). According to the Executive Yuan, Duh's experience will enable the government to continue carrying out important Cabinet policies.

When Chang first announced his resignation, Duh said he would follow him wherever he goes. Apparently, this is not the case. Nevertheless, Duh is left with a mountain of difficult tasks in front of him, such as rising oil and utility prices and controversy surrounding the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to name only a couple.

Still, the first daunting problem at hand is that Duh will have to withstand the DPP's relentless attacks over the MOEA's role in the Kaohsiung gas explosions. Second, Duh will have to demonstrate that as the new chief of the MOEA, he is capable of leading his officers in effectively carrying out relief and rescue efforts in the aftermath of the explosions.

There are many other challenges Duh will need to tackle in the near future. Among them are flagship policies championed by the government: the launch of Free Economic Pilot Zones (FEPZ), the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, and the utilization of alternative energy sources after the mothballing of Nuke 4.

Political bickering has had a devastating impact in Taiwan. Policies that are beneficial to Taiwan's future are being bogged down in the Legislature. The country needs a transformation. Unless the political infighting stops, the government will never be able to launch constructive policies.

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