TAIPEI: Taiwan’s Premier Lin Chuan resigned on Monday in a move aimed at reviving dwindling public support for the government of President Tsai Ing-wen.
Tsai’s office announced in a statement that Lin offered his resignation on Sunday, saying that he had “accomplished his periodic tasks”, and it was approved by the president.
Speculation had been rife that Lin would be replaced. The government’s popularity has been hit by a series of controversial policies, ranging from holiday cuts to pension reforms, as well as by worsening relations with China.
Beijing has cut all official communication with Tsai’s government since she took office in May last year. Her Democratic Progressive Party is traditionally independence-leaning and has refused officially to accept that Taiwan is part of “one China”.
Tsai’s popularity has dropped from a high of nearly 70 percent when she took power to below 30 percent in several recent polls, with some in the DPP blaming the unpopular premier for dragging down her support.
In a TVBS poll released last month, Lin’s support fell to a record low of 18 percent, while 44 percent said he should be replaced against 26 percent who said he should stay.
“I am happy that somebody will take over the heavy burden and I’m grateful that somebody is willing to do that… I’ll accept the criticisms that are reasonable,” Lin told reporters when asked about his low public support.
Lin, an economist and former finance minister, was rumored to become the next governor of Taiwan’s central bank. But he said Monday that he has no plans to take any government post in the future.
His replacement will be announced on Tuesday. There has been widespread speculation that the popular mayor of the southern city of Tainan, William Lai, will take over.
The Harvard-educated Lai has won praise for his efficient management of the city, including his handling of the aftermath of an earthquake in 2016 that killed 116 people.
The cabinet is set to resign en masse in a formality on Thursday after the premier steps down. It is not immediately clear how many ministers will be replaced.