Hannah Arendt was famous for noting the "banality of evil" of unquestioning Nazi bureaucrats. She often quoted William Faulkner in her later years: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
Perhaps history haunts every person who attempts to answer the question of what constitutes justice.
The recent problem of officials converting years of service to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) into civil service to increase their pensions once again reminds us of this situation.
Let us consider the problem through the following three cases. First, Uncle Chang (
He worked for the KMT's public service association in Ilan after he retired, and was highly enthusiastic about local affairs. He often donated books bought with his small salary to schools. As he grew old, his former military supervisor arranged for him to work as a cleaner at a recreational ranch of the Cabinet's Veterans Affairs Commission. He officially retired from civil service before the lifting of martial law in 1987. Today he lives on his monthly pension at a "veterans' house."
Auntie Wang (
Mr. Lee (
According to the Examination Yuan's calculation rule announced in 1971, the years these people spent working at the KMT's party organizations -- including public service associations, women's associations, chapters for educated youth and KMT archives -- could be counted as time spent in the civil service.
This administrative order was temporarily cancelled after martial law was abolished in 1987. But the Examination Yuan's interpretation the next year stated that the new rule was not retroactive.
Therefore, those who shifted from the party to the government before 1987 could still include their years of party service as civil service.
However, according to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, the Examination Yuan's interpretation 17 years ago violated the Civil Servant Retirement Law (