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March 27, 2017

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Lawmakers criticize Tsung as unprofessional

Legislators yesterday harshly criticized Minister of Economic Affairs Christine Tsung during a question session saying that she has performed her duties "unprofessionally."

Lawmaker Li Tung-hao of the opposition People First Party (PFP), who is also a professor of finance at the prestigious National Chengchi University, gave Tsung a impromptu test on her economics knowledge.

Tsung answered all 10 questions with little hesitation. Nonetheless, Li was apparently unhappy with her answers and gave her only 29 out of his possible 100 points.

"A qualified economic minister should be able to get at least 70 points in the test. It's the requirement for the students in a master's degree program," Li said.

Tsung later told reporters that Li did not make the evaluation fairly, but she said that "To take some challenges here is not bad for me."

The minister said in January that Taiwan's economy, which is currently in recession, will "take off" again within two years.

Nonetheless, when she was asked to detail the methods she will use to kick-start Taiwan's recovery she gave the legislators a vague response, citing well-worn phrases such as high-tech industries and knowledge-based economy.

Meanwhile, another lawmaker barred Tsung's aides from passing a note to her during the questioning after she was asked to detail the country's economic policies.

Another lawmaker refused to allow her to use English terms in response to the questions.

The 54-year-old economic minister, who holds a master of business administration from the University of Missouri in the U.S., was formerly president of China Airlines. She was also an adviser to the Kaohsiung's Department of Rapid Transit Systems.

Another lawmaker even suggested Tsung submit her resignation today.

Senior lawmaker Shen Fu-hsiung of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, told Tsung to "study harder" before responding to lawmakers' questions.

Some reporters later discovered that there were tears in her eyes but she denied having cried in the parliament.

When she was asked whether she felt regret for serving as the economic minister, Tsung responded that "If I had the chance to reconsider the offer, I would definitely think twice."

Nevertheless, she stressed that she would make every effort to perform her duties in the future.

Asked whether she was dissatisfied with the lawmakers' attitude, the minister said that "Democracy means being not afraid of harsh criticism."

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