Cablegate: President Ma Ying-Jeou's New Cabinet: Demographics
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #0657/01 1340853
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 130853Z MAY 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 000657
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TW
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT MA YING-JEOU'S NEW CABINET: DEMOGRAPHICS
1. (SBU) Summary: This cable describes the demographic
profile of President-elect Ma Ying-jeou's cabinet (not
including the National Security Council and Presidential
Office appointments), with particular attention to the age,
gender, birthplace, education, government experience,
political connections, and U.S. connections of the thirty-six
people who comprise Ma's corps of senior policymakers.
2. (SBU) The average age of the cabinet members is 57; one
quarter of the new cabinet posts are held by women.
Twenty-four members of what has been called the "Ph.D.
Cabinet" hold doctoral degrees, and six more hold masters
degrees. Most come from academia or served in earlier KMT
governments: eighteen are academics (of whom six are
currently serving as university presidents), six served with
Ma under President Lee Teng-hui, and four worked for him when
he was Taipei Mayor. In a departure from previous KMT
administrations, "mainlanders" born outside Taiwan make up
less than a third of the cabinet, and "Taiwanese" are in
charge of cross-Strait relations. This is perhaps the most
"American" cabinet in Taiwan's history, with thirteen of its
members educated in the U.S. Ma and Premier-designate Liu
Chao-hsuan selected "seasoned professionals" to ensure
competency and stability at the beginning of the new
administration. End Summary.
Age and Gender
3. (SBU) Most of the new cabinet members are in their
mid-fifties to early sixties, with 67 year-old Defense
Minister Chen Chao-min being the oldest, and 35 year-old
National Youth Commission Chairperson Wang Li-ting the
youngest. The average age is 57, which has prompted some
Taiwan media commentators to argue the cabinet is "too old"
to come up with new ideas. Taoyuan Magistrate and Ma
confidant Eric Chu (Li-lun) told the Director last month that
Ma and Premier-designate Liu would choose "seasoned
professionals" to staff important cabinet posts in order to
ensure competence and stability at the outset of the new
administration. Ten of the 36 newly-filled positions are
held by women, fulfilling Ma's pledge that women would occupy
at least a quarter of the seats in the new cabinet.
4. (SBU) Twenty-four members of the new cabinet hold doctoral
and six masters degrees. Of the remaining six, four hold
bachelors degrees and two graduated from military academies.
Six are currently university presidents, and twelve more are
attached to universities or research organizations. Taiwan
pundits have dubbed this the "ivory tower" cabinet and the
"Ph.D. cabinet," questioning whether academics, even such
prominent ones, could have the practical experience or
government expertise necessary to deal effectively with
Taiwan's real-world problems. KMT sources close to Ma
earlier told AIT that Ma would include a high number of
academics in his administration because he viewed them as
less susceptible to corruption than long-time party officials.
"Mainlanders" vs. "Taiwanese"
5. (SBU) Twenty-five members of the new cabinet, a strong
majority, are "ethnic Taiwanese" born in Taiwan.
Particularly sensitive to public fears that his
administration might "sell out" Taiwan to China, Ma placed
"Taiwanese" in charge of the entities responsible for dealing
with the PRC )- the Straits Exchange Foundation (KMT Vice
Chairman P.K. Chiang) and the Mainland Affairs Council
(former TSU legislator Lai Hsin-yuan). Only nine members of
the new cabinet are "mainlanders" born in China, and all of
them, including Premier-designate Liu Chao-hsuan, Finance
Minister Lee Shu-te, and Transportation and Communications
Minister Mao Chih-kuo, have been assigned domestic
policy-related duties mostly unrelated to cross-Strait
Government Experience and Political Connections
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6. (SBU) Ma and Siew served together under President Lee
Teng-hui -- Ma as Justice Minister and Siew as Minister of
Economic Affairs. This may explain in part why six members
of the new cabinet were also former members of the Lee
administration, including Vice Premier-designate Paul Chiu
(Cheng-hsiung), Foreign Minister-designate Francisco Ou
(Hung-lien), and Minister-designate of Economic Affairs Yin
Chi-ming. Ma also drew heavily from KMT party ranks: five
cabinet members are full-time party officials, while another
is currently President of the KMT-sponsored National Policy
Foundation thinktank. Former members of Ma's Taipei City
government also figure prominently in the new cabinet: the
incoming Finance Minister, the Director General of Budget,
Accounting and Statistics, the Environmental Protection
Agency Director, and one Minister without Portfolio all
served Ma during his tenure as Taipei Mayor.
7. (SBU) Thirteen members of the new cabinet received
undergraduate or graduate degrees from U.S. universities.
The Presidential Office Secretary-General and Deputy
Secretary-General and two of the Deputy Secretaries-General
of the National Security Council were also U.S.-educated.
Almost all of Ma's cabinet speak some English, and sixteen of
them speak it fluently.