Mon, Jul 26, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Corrupt politicians have got to go

When Taiwan's representative office in Britain issued a new passport and documents authorizing real estate transfers to Yeh Hsiu-chen (葉秀貞), the wife of Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), who is wanted for his involvement in the Lafayette scandal, it caused a political storm.

The entire country is now wondering how such a mistake could occur, not once, but twice.

Pan-blue legislators have raised tough questions that suggested the scandal was not just a mistake, and the Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) legislative caucus has reported the issue to the Control Yuan, asking it to investigate the officials handling the matter: Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂), Taiwan's representative to Britain, and former foreign minister Eugene Chien (簡又新). TSU Legislator Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) has pointed out that liability for administrative negligence among foreign affairs staff should also be investigated, as well as whether collusion between officials and business leaders was involved. Chen also demanded that the government review the role of civil servants and whether illegal practices still exist.

At this time, there is no concrete proof of collusion between Wang and people inside or outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, given the political integrity of those involved, the ramifications could be damaging.

For example, before becoming foreign minister, Chien had to resign from his post as transportation and communications minister in connection with corruption surrounding highway construction projects. However, coming from a respected Taoyuan family adept at manipulating private relationships with high-level leaders, Chien was still trusted and given important posts by two consecutive presidents, even after his resignation. He advanced quickly in rank, from Taiwan's representative to Britain to advisor to the National Security Council; then from Presidential Office deputy secretary-general to the foreign ministry. This was met with much surprise, but the strong reaction did not affect him thanks to his presidential ties.

During Chien's term as foreign minister, he fulfilled his duties faithfully and energetically. His development of diplomatic relationships and state visits is praiseworthy, and he succeeded in reforming the old bureaucracy of the ministry. However, when weighing his successes against his failures, the government and the public may disagree on whether his legacy is positive or negative. It is most certainly a great failure.

If the upcoming investigation reveals a conspiracy in aiding suspected criminals, we cannot help but wonder why the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government continues to recruit officials with a history of corruption who worked in the old Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government. Is our government completely lacking talent? Or is it because these corrupt officials are needed to raise political donations?

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should know that it is impossible to change such corrupt habits, and that when new incidents of corruption come to light, it will only stain the image of the government.

It is time to reform and clean up the culture of corruption left over from the old KMT government. The DPP government should take this opportunity to get rid of politically appointed officials with a poor track record of integrity, lest they continue to embarrass the Chen administration.

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