United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 17, 2016
Executive Summary: During the Chen era, political appointee Lin Chuan received more positive evaluations than negative evaluations. He balanced the budget. He reformed the tax system. Tsai praised him for "good communication skills", and for familiarity with her governing approach. She positioned Lin as a "reformist cabinet chief". We hope this is not mere talk. In any event, Tsai Ing-wen must learn from Chen and Ma's recruitment mistakes. She must attempt to create a new political atmosphere. Only then can she enable Taiwan to extricate itself from the quagmire.
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Tsai Ing-wen will soon announce her appointment of Lin Chuan as premier. This decision hardly comes as a surprise. Lin Chuan had considerable fiscal management experience under Chen Shui-bian. He worked closely back then with Tsai Ing-wen. More recently, he was responsible for long-term policy formulation. This means that once "total government" is implemented, everyone in the DPP, top to bottom, will treat Tsai Ing-wen's will as the party's will. The success or failure of policy will be borne by president and party leader Tsai Ing-wen alone.
Lin Chuan's emergence has provoked considerable criticism, especially because the new cabinet includes many members of the Chen administration. Many feel the Chen administration has virtually been resurrected. Had Chen Shui-bian's rule been a plus for the DPP, this sort of "legacy" would hardly be a problem. But the Chen administration's eight year history was an embarrassment for Taiwan. Critics are concerned about more than her appointments. They are concerned that her administration will follow in the Chen administration's footsteps.
Lin Chuan's response has been, "Do not tar everyone with the same brush”, "Do not assume that if someone was a member of the Chen administration, he must be bad". The Chen administration cultivated many political appointees. Critics may hold differing opinions of the Ma administration. But one need not assume that all Ma administration heads are no good". This is true. But years of partisan warfare have made it impossible for people on Taiwan to view disputes objectively. Can we take advantage of the change in ruling parties to establish a new political culture? That is something both major parties should ponder.
In fact cabinet ministers come and go for a variety of reasons. Did they perform well? Critics can draw their own conclusions. The Chen administration's failure was not necessarily a failure of all its cabinet members. Criticisms of the Ma administration do not mean that all its officials were worthless. The problem is that with blue vs. green partisan confrontation, smearing a political appointee's job performance has become the norm. No matter how well an individual cabinet member might perform, it all boils down to the president's ability. Chen and Ma both had blind spots in their cabinet appointments. That has become an important factor in the failure of both administrations.
Chen Shui-bian appointed hardly any blue camp or independents to key posts in a gesture of reconciliation. Late in his term, he relied almost exclusively on cronies. Chen political appointees were drawn mainly from elected officials and party staffers, with a smattering of technocrats and academics. Such an administration is of course, well-suited for spreading political propaganda and waging partisan battles. But it can hardly boast of achievements in day to day government.
Worst of all, Chen family corruption set an example for many political appointees to emulate. Some accepted bribes openly. Some visited casino and accepted “free hospitality”. Some abused power to pave the way for life after politics. All in all, corrupt officials left an indelible impression of "bad table manners”. After eight years in power, the DPP found itself bereft of both foot soldiers and generals, and scarred for life.
Ma Ying-jeou came to office in this context. He then enjoyed "total government". Naturally people's expectations were high. Yet after eight years in power, his record was a huge disappointment. Ma administration recruitment practices were narrow-minded, not much better than Chen's. It drew talent from technocrats and academics. It became known as the "Professors Cabinet" or “Ivory Tower Cabinet” because its was so badly out of touch with people at the grass roots. Ma administration decision-making was too conservative and too tardy in responding to public expectations. It lacked the ability to break new ground, and even defend ground already occupied.
The main problem with Ma government recruits, academics and technocrats alike, was their lack of political charisma. They lacked the eloquence to defend their policies. What's worse, they left themselves escape hatches. They were prepared to jump ship and return to their former jobs at any time. As a result, they lacked the will to fight for their beliefs. Meanwhile, KMT elected officials lacked the ability to formulate policy. The result was a disconnect between the executive and legislature. The entire cabinet was demoralized. Late in Ma's term, bureau heads resigning, followed by their deputies taking over had become the norm. The government was deprived of talent, and morale was drained.
To sum up, the Chen administration and the Ma administration failed to use talent wisely. They were too narrow-minded in their recruitment practices. Cronyism and selfishness ruled the roost. Dissent was not tolerated. The result was government inbreeding. Decision making failed to keep up with the times. Their administrations often fell behind the private sector. They were hardly qualified to lead the nation. In the blink of an eye, 16 years elapsed, during which Taiwan's political and economic systems have remained stalled.
During the Chen era, political appointee Lin Chuan received more positive evaluations than negative evaluations. He balanced the budget. He reformed the tax system. Tsai praised him for "good communication skills", and for familiarity with her governing approach. She positioned Lin as a "reformist cabinet chief". We hope this is not mere talk. In any event, Tsai Ing-wen must learn from Chen and Ma's recruitment mistakes. She must attempt to create a new political atmosphere. Only then can she enable Taiwan to extricate itself from the quagmire.
林全在扁政府時代有完整財經歷練，他與蔡英文互動密切， 且近年長期為其擘劃政策藍圖。此一布局，也意味在「完全執政」 後，民進黨政府上下皆將以蔡英文的意志為意志， 施政成敗由總統兼黨魁的蔡英文一肩扛起。
而有「扁營回朝」之質疑。若陳水扁的執政經驗對民進黨是加分， 這項「傳承」當然沒有問題；但外界之所以疑慮， 主要是扁朝八年已成台灣民主史上不堪回首的一頁， 如今外界關心的不僅是人選如何，而是蔡政府會不會步扁政府後塵？
不要認為扁團隊就是不好的」， 因為扁政府時期也培養了很多政務官。林全進而談到， 儘管今天外界對馬英九政府有不同看法，但也不必因此認為「 馬政府閣員都不好」。此一說法，確有道理。問題在，台灣社會「 就事論事」的能力因長年政治惡鬥而逐漸流失， 如何趁著政黨輪替建立起新的政治文化，朝野都應深思。
外界也自有公評。扁政府的失敗，未必是所有閣員的失敗； 馬政府受批評，也不表示所有官員皆一無是處。癥結在， 一因藍綠政治對立，政務官的表現被汙名化、標籤化已成常態； 二則無論個別閣員的表現如何，最後皆因總統的能力而被化約。 而扁、馬用人都有盲點，成了這兩朝政府失敗的重要因素。
作為和解象徵，到了執政中後期，政府運用幾乎都只依賴「親信」。 陳水扁的政務官，主要來自民選首長、民代及黨內幕僚， 再穿插少數技術官僚和學者；這樣的結構， 固然在政治宣傳及政策辯護上戰鬥力十足， 但在實際政務上卻未必拿得出傲人成績。
公然收賄者有之，赴賭場接受招待者有之， 下台前濫權為自己找後路者有之，在在留給政壇「吃相難看」 的貪腐印記。八年執政下來，民進黨可謂損兵折將，傷痕累累。
當然受到民眾的深切期待；然而八年執政下來，政績卻令人失望。 馬政府用人之褊狹，比起陳水扁毫不遜色； 其人才率皆來自技術官僚和學界，號稱「博士內閣」，卻因不接「 地氣」而與社會脫節。馬政府不僅決策過於保守， 官員對民眾需求反應遲緩，不僅開創性不足，連守成都力有未逮。
一則拙於為政策辯護，二則因留有後路，隨時皆可回任原職， 因而缺乏拚政績之鬥志。相形之下， 國民黨的民選公職人員在政策上又幾乎沒有「造血」的功能， 導致行政與立法脫節，整個內閣意興闌珊，到執政中後期，「 首長下台、副首長接任」已成常態，人才和士氣被消磨殆盡。
加上親信主義及本位主義作祟，甚至不同的聲音均遭排除。其結果， 是政府人事「近親繁殖」，決策瞻矚無法與時俱進， 甚至常常落後民間部門，更遑論領導國家前行。一眨眼十六年過去， 台灣政經卻停滯不前。
在財政收支平衡、租稅改革上也可見其功。蔡英文誇他「 溝通能力好」，而且熟悉她的治國理念，並將林全組閣定位為「 改革內閣」；這一切，希望都不只是說說而已。無論如何， 蔡英文和林全應以馬、扁的用人缺失為鑑， 進而設法為政治注入新的氣息，才能讓台灣擺脫惡鬥的泥淖。