Taiwan defense minister to step down as part of reshuffle

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 29, 2013 2:22 AM

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's government said on Monday the defense minister will step down amid a public outcry over the death of a soldier, in a bid, according to analysts, by President Ma Ying-jeou to boost his increasingly poor popularity ratings.

The minister, Kao Hua-chu, who has held the post since 2009, has borne the brunt of criticism over the death this year of the soldier, Hung Chung-chiu, after punishment for minor violations of military conduct.

Separately, the island's top financial regulator Chen Yuh-chang will step down as part of a cabinet reshuffle, a source close to the Financial Supervisory Commission said on Monday. Chen is widely seen as close to Ma.

The government said it will announce further details of the reshuffle at a news conference at 0630 GMT (2.30 a.m. ET)

The reshuffle comes amid already rock-bottom approval ratings for the president, whose economic and China policies have triggered widespread criticism.

Amid Taiwan's less-than-stellar economic performance and stagnant wage growth, Ma's ratings have hovered around the 20-percent mark for months.

Ma himself has personally apologized for the Hung incident.

(Reporting By Michael Gold; Editing by Robert Birsel)