Sun, Jan 07, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Hollow politicians damaging Taiwan

By Lin Terng-yaw 林騰鷂

Policy-making on the 84-hour workweek and "small three links" fully reflects the superficiality and hollowness of the government.

The government has stirred up a constitutional dispute by firmly refusing to implement the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project, which had already been passed by the legislature. The dispute is yet to be resolved.

Also, instead of filing a "reconsideration proposal" (覆議案), in accordance with the Constitution to reverse workweek legislation already passed by the legislature, the ruling party has tried to amend the legislation to increase the number of work hours.

Both these events reflect a lack of in-depth research and solid action. And then there's the forced implementation of the "small three links," in which there was no discussion and no consideration given to the other side's wishes. This unilateral policy fails to take into account objective realities and constitutes rash, superficial administrative behavior.

The "hollowing out of the economy" is a term with which everyone in the country is familiar, reflecting the economic crisis that occurred following the exodus of Taiwan's small and medium-sized businesses to China and other foreign destinations. No one, however, has been aware of the administrative hollowing out taking place. Increased incidences of "black gold" in county and township administrations, administrative decrees that are outdated and neglect the public interest, lagging development in the area of administrative law studies, and administrative teams that lack legal expertise, ethical grounding, and professional research -- all of these constantly reduce administrative efficiency, and conspire to cause the "hollowing out" of the administration.

These matters involve the rights and interests of the public. In February 1999, the legislature passed the Administrative Procedure Law (行政程序法), which was to go into effect on New Year's Day, 2001. Procrastination by the administration, however, frustrated implementation of the law, and amendments were subsequently passed giving the administration a one-year buffer period in which to make necessary alterations. This is a real manifestation of administrative hollowness. In March, following Taiwan's presidential election, campaign teams spouting populist political slogans entered national administrative organizations in droves, further deepening the trend of politicization within the national administration. Frequently, the administration drifts off into its beautiful political slogans and emotional political fights. There are reasons why the ruling team hasn't achieved a single thing in the past several months.

In the wave of globalization driving the new century, it might perhaps be difficult to prevent businesses from leaving the country, or the hollowing out of the economy. The administration could have avoided superficiality and hollowness by changing its subjective ideology and governing in the spirit of the Constitution and according to the law. Avoiding hollowness in government would, moreover, help to alleviate and slow down the hollowing out of the economy. But if the cart is put before the horse, and the real problem of administrative hollowness is not faced squarely -- resulting in attempts to solve financial problems and unemployment issues through ritualistic pow-wows such as the National Economic Development Conference or National Administrative Reform Conference -- the administration will only continue to float aimlessly in a sea of political slogans and rantings.

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