Sat, Aug 05, 2006 - Page 12 News List

New FSC chief vows to rebuild trust in watchdog

DARK HORSE CANDIDATE Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide expressed surprise over Shih Jun-ji's appointment, saying that they were not familiar with him

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The newly appointed Financial Supervisory Commission chairman, Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉), said yesterday that he would endeavor to rebuild people's trust in the disputed agency and create a stable and competitive environment for the nation's financial industry.

"I feel honored [about the appointment] and the great responsibility ? I will try my best to restore people's confidence in the financial supervisory mechanism," he said.

His tenure will run through June 30, 2008.

The commission has been embroiled in controversy since it was established in July 2004. A series of policy flip-flops eroded confidence in its authority, as did the indictments of some of its high-ranking officials.

"The premier expects the commission to make well-thought-out policies, implement them efficiently and operate cleanly. These are the main guidelines for my duties during my chairmanship," Shih said.

He said that although he was not a financial industry veteran, he was not a layman either, adding that he would draw on his experience to help the financial sector compete fairly and prosper.

Shih will take up his new post next week.

The commission's top job has been vacant since Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝) was suspended in May for alleged corruption in his previous job as chairman of state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp (台糖).

Kong has filed an appeal to regain his job.

The 51-year-old Shih holds a doctorate in economics from National Taiwan University. He was named to the commission on July 1. Once an Academia Sinica researcher with expertise in financial reform and telecommunications policy, Shih entered public service with a job on the Fair Trade Commission, where he worked from 1998 to 2001.

In his student days he was a pro-democracy activist and also helped organized a major demonstration to oppose the White Terror.

"My background has given me the strength to fight and resist [the kind of] lobbying and pressure [that I'll face] in the future," Shih said.

Some lawmakers expressed surprise over Shih's appointment, saying they had not had advance knowledge of the appointment and were not familiar with him.

"It is difficult to comment on his suitability now because I do not know him," said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰), a member of the legislature's Finance Committee.

"We will closely supervise him and there will be no honeymoon period for him," Fai said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said he hoped Shih could reestablish the commission's authority and sense of trust and crack down on crimes such as insider trading and embezzlement.

Tsai said he expected the commission to push for some much-needed cross-strait relaxation, starting with less controversial issues, such as an offshore bourse.

A foreign currency-denominated offshore stock exchange has been stuck on the drawing board because of the government's caps on investments in China.

Shih, however, threw cold water on the idea that he would push for more cross-strait opening, saying that cross-strait policy was not in the commission's bailiwick.

"The commission's independence means policy-making independent from politics, not excluding itself from the Cabinet and other [government] agencies," Shih said.

The commission's main task is to hammer out concrete measures to implement the financial reform consensus reached in the recent Conference on Sustaining Taiwan's Economic Development, he said.

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