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Cabinet resigns ahead of 'minor' reshuffle

TAIPEI -- The Cabinet resigned en masse yesterday to pave the way for a minor reshuffle by Premier Sean Chen, the results of which are expected to be announced by May 19, the eve of the inauguration of President Ma Ying-jeou for his second term.

The resignation was a nod to constitutional precedent, Chen said, explaining that his current Cabinet lineup will be basically the “new Cabinet” for the president's second term.

Chen said most of the Cabinet members will remain in their posts, while some will return to their faculty positions in universities.

Chen did not elaborate on the “minor changes” to the Cabinet lineup.

After his Jan. 14 re-election, Ma appointed Chen as premier, who formed his new Cabinet early the following month.

Citing a statement by the president that his second term began on re-election day rather than on the formal inauguration day, Chen said that the Cabinet list approved by Ma in February means the people named are “the Cabinet members for President Ma's second term.”

He said that he expects the Cabinet, currently working in a caretaker capacity, to continue serving the country.

Challenges facing the government include a long-running dispute over imports of U.S. beef containing traces of the livestock leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, deeply unpopular hikes in electricity and fuel prices, and a proposal to collect capital gains tax on stock market profits, Chen said.

Taiwan is also in dire need of reforms to upgrade its manufacturing sector, the service industry and old-economy industries, Chen added.

The premier reiterated that the government will factor in national interests, social justice and public health in its continuing push for reforms, as well as considering public opinion in carrying out its policies.

Lawmakers reacted along party lines to the Cabinet resignation.

While ruling Kuomintang (KMT) legislators said they back Chen being reappointed as premier, the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus threatened to topple the Cabinet if Chen is named premier again.

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