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September 25, 2017

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Ex-legislator tapped as new Cabinet spokesperson

Premier Sean Chen has named former Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Cheng Li-wen as the Executive Yuan's new spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary-General Steven Chen said yesterday.

The premier believes Cheng is the best candidate, and the appointment will be official after obtaining approval from President Ma Ying-jeou, the secretary-general said.

The secretary-general said the Cabinet needs a spokesperson able to convey government policies accurately, is sensitive with media interaction and can take up the job immediately.

Cheng, who will be filling the post left behind by Hu Yu-wei, was once a member of the Democratic Progressive Party. Hu resigned earlier this month over a personal matter.

 She joined the KMT in 2005. She has served as spokeswoman for the party and as an at-large legislator. Commonly considered a member of President Ma Ying-jeou's inner circle, Cheng had often been tipped to become the Cabinet spokesperson sooner or later.

"I will use the most accurate and the most comprehensible words to help the public understand the government's policies," Cheng, 43, was cited by CNA as saying.

Pledging to bridge the communication gap between the government and the public, Cheng said that she will forward responses from the public and the media about government policies to the administration in the shortest time possible.

The United Evening News cited her as showing an understanding of the difference between government work and the role of spokesperson for the KMT.

She said the Cabinet has to consider all aspects, and its policies cover enormous areas, according to the paper.

She also revealed that the premier and she had a meeting about two weeks ago, during which he first offered her the spokesperson job, which she accepted.

During their talk, Cheng said Chen showed sincerity and strong commitment to the country, which prompted her to take the offer without hesitation.

Although the country is in distress and the premier is under tremendous pressure, he did not show any frustration or signs of quitting, Cheng said, adding that Chen formally offered her the spokesperson post Friday night.

Cheng's recruitment to the Cabinet has invited fresh speculation over the premier's relationship with President Ma Ying-jeou.

There has been speculation that Chen would be replaced soon, but Cheng's appointment may represent a vote of confidence by the president for the premier, observers said.

The previous spokesperson, Hu, 51, formally tendered his resignation on Oct. 7 after he disclosed the previous day that he was in a relationship with a graduate student.

Hu has since returned to his post as a media professor at National Taiwan Normal University.

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