Taiwan’s premier resigned over criticism of the government’s response to Typhoon Morakot, which slammed into the island last month.
Liu Chao-shiuan said Monday that his Cabinet also was resigning en masse, according to the semi-official Central News Agency. Wu Den-yih, the secretary general of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, has been tapped to succeed Liu. Wu said a new Cabinet will be organized by Thursday, CNA reported. Liu came under fire for reacting slowly after Morakot. The storm triggered mudslides that wiped out villages in mountainous regions of southern Taiwan. At least 543 people are known to have died in the storm, according to Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center. Hundreds are still feared missing. Liu had announced his resignation at a news conference in mid-August to assume responsibility for the administration’s handling of the typhoon, CNA said. But because the post-storm situation was grave, President Ma Ying-jeou asked Liu to remain and oversee relief work. Liu said Monday that about 90 percent of relief subsidies had been distributed to storm victims and about 92 percent of displaced people had been temporarily resettled. He said he was resigning because he had completed his task. Ma has apologized for the slow response to the typhoon and said he planned sweeping changes to rescue agencies. He also said he might punish some government officials.
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“We will try our best to do a better job in the rescue work that has been criticized for being too slow,” Ma said in August. “There are things that we have to correct, and we also will be responsible for whatever mistakes or neglect that government officials have made.” The storm destroyed homes, farms and other buildings, and roads, causing about NT$100 billion (U.S. $3 billion) in damage, Ma said. Eric Liluan Chu, the new vice premier-designate, said post-disaster reconstruction, epidemic prevention and economic revitalization will be the top priority for the new Cabinet, according to CNA. “As the vice premier, I will assist the premier in carrying out those tasks and fulfilling related missions,” said Chu, who is currently a county magistrate in northern Taiwan.