x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Taiwan's premier resigns

Taiwan's premier resigned today amid strong criticism of the government's slow response to the most devastating storm to hit the island in 50 years.

TAIPEI, Taiwan // Taiwan's premier resigned today amid strong criticism of the government's slow response to the most devastating storm to hit the island in 50 years, and the president immediately named a senior official from the ruling party to replace him. Liu Chao-shiuan said he was leaving office because his Cabinet had completed the initial stage of rehabilitation work after Typhoon Morakot slammed into the island August 8-9 and left an estimated 670 people dead. "I have completed my duties at this phase," said Mr Liu, who has held his post since Ma Ying-jeou became president in May 2008. Mr Liu's move sets the stage for the entire Cabinet to resign. Mr Liu said that would happen on Thursday. Mr Ma named Nationalist Party secretary general Wu Den-yih, 61, to replace Mr Liu. Mr Wu is a veteran lawmaker with a reputation as a skilled political manoeuverer. He previously served eight years as mayor of Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest city, and before that was chief executive of Nantou county, also in the south of the island. Mr Wu's nomination does not require approval from Taiwan's legislature. Mr Wu said he will name new Cabinet members in a few days after discussing the line-up with Mr Ma. "We will unite and strive with our best efforts to shoulder the difficult task ahead," he told reporters. Another former lawmaker Chu Li-lun, 48, was named by Mr Ma as vice-premier. Mr Chu has served as chief executive of Taoyuan county in suburban Taipei since 2001. The presidential spokesman Wang Yuchi said Mr Chu, who has a background in finance and business management, could oversee the island's economic development, which has been hard hit by the global financial crisis. Typhoon Morakot, which dumped one-metre of rain in some locations, triggered massive flooding and mudslides in and around 40 villages in southern Taiwan. Critics blamed the heavy casualties on government inefficiency, saying authorities should have ordered residents in the area to evacuate their homes long before the storm hit. The government has also come under criticism for rejecting initial offers of foreign aid and for failing to immediately deploy troops to help with rescue operations.

*AP