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July 24, 2017

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Cabinet secretary-general to head MOI

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Executive Yuan yesterday morning announced its latest personnel adjustments, noting that Cabinet Secretary-General Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) will take incumbent Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan's (李鴻源) position, and Minister without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) will become the first minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST).

New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Lee Shu-chuan (李四川) will be promoted as the new secretary-general of the Executive Yuan; Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) and Minister without Portfolio Schive Chi (薛琦) both voluntarily resigned from their posts, Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) told local reporters.

When asked why Shen and Schive decided to resign, Sun said "perhaps they believe that they have attained their objectives as ministers," stressing that the pair have said that "it is a good arrangement to let other people take their posts."

Shen, however, told local press that he was told to step down, adding that the new minister will take his position on March 3. Quoting a Chinese idiom, Shen said self-deprecatingly that he had exhausted his wellspring of talent.

Jiang Awaited Lee's Call

Given that Lee is required to return to National Taiwan University to keep his tenure in March, Lee previously had said he would stay at his post if the government wanted him to do so; otherwise, he would rather go back to the university.

Sun said both President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Jiang Yi-huah thought Lee's expertise is in coordinating cross-ministry affairs, and therefore the premier on Tuesday afternoon invited Lee to serve as a minister without portfolio at the Executive Yuan. Lee, however, rejected Jiang's offer.

Noting that Jiang told Lee if he changed his mind, he could call Jiang before Wednesday, Sun said the premier waited for Lee's call in his office past midnight, but the call was not made.

Denying Media Speculation

Local online media outlet Stormmedia published an article claiming that Ma, Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Jiang on Tuesday night around 9 p.m. had a meeting at the Presidential Office regarding Lee's personnel adjustment.

Jiang reportedly criticized Lee, saying that he always acts without consulting the Cabinet's opinions. Wu, on the other hand, spoke well of Lee, noting that as the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has many major ongoing policies, plus the new computerized registration system that has just been stabilized, Lee's personnel issue should wait for a while.

The article claimed that after listening to both Jiang and Wu's arguments, Ma decided to transfer Lee to serve as a minister without portfolio.

A source in the Presidential Office yesterday denied the speculation, saying that Ma did not meet Jiang on Tuesday night. The source said the article is baseless and against journalistic principles and practices.

In response, Sun did not specifically deny that Jiang had met Ma; instead, he said the premier stayed at the Executive Yuan until past midnight.

When asked if there will be another Cabinet reshuffle, Sun said he does not have any information to provide.

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