Sun, May 28, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Constitution says it's Chen's fault

By Kuei Hung-Chen 桂宏誠

There has been a string of scandals recently, with an impressive line-up of performers: Chen Che-nan (陳哲男), Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成), Lee Chin-chen (李進誠), Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝), Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘) and Su Teh-jien (蘇德建). The Civil Servant Service Act (公務員服務法) assures us they are all civil servants, but they are also all suspected of illegal acts.

If it weren't for revelations by legislators and media exposes, who knows how long these individuals would have gone on watching each others' backs? You may well have noticed that the recent spate of scandals has led to a war of words between members of the government and the opposition. A key reason for this is that the Control Yuan is responsible for the codes and ethics of public functionaries, and it hasn't been able to convene or operate for some time now.

Kong has been suspended from his post as an administrative officer in what must be a first in the history of Taiwan's constitutional government. As far as the government is concerned, the suspension is called for under clause 2, article 4 of the Law on Discipline of Public Functionaries (公務員懲戒法). This states that in accordance with stipulations set out in article 19, the public functionary in question should be referred to the Control Yuan for investigation or to the Committee on the Discipline of Public Functionaries (公務員懲戒委員會) so it can decide how serious the offence is, and that his or her duties should first be suspended.

Clause 1, article 19 also says that if the head of any government branch, department or committee believes that an official under their jurisdiction meets the conditions laid out in article 2, the reason should be stated in writing and submitted to the Control Yuan together with the pertinent evidence for investigation.

The problem is that the Control Yuan has existed in name only for some time now, as the president's nominations have yet to be accepted, radically undermining the machinery of constitutional government in this country. Is the government really unaware of how meaningless it is to send Kong to the Control Yuan for investigation, or is it just playing around with the law?

For the sake of comparison, we should also look at the public functionaries involved in the Taiwan Development Corporation (TDC, 台灣土地開發) insider trading case. Just how is it that not one of those people were punished or suspended?

If the Control Yuan were able to exercise its authority, it would have been able to suspend the president of the company who was responsible for government stocks, and it could also have impeached Chao Chien-ming. However, in the absence of a functioning Control Yuan, we have seen the government come down on Kong, distorting the law and suspending him, whereas the insider who, according to the law, should be suspended or punished is pretending that these problems don't exist.

The chairman of the Financial Supervisory Committee (FSC) is given a guaranteed tenure specifically to prevent the government interfering in personnel matters: This doesn't mean, though, that an "exit mechanism" isn't in place for the chairman. Also, despite the fact that the FSC chairman is afforded considerable independence, he can still be impeached by the Control Yuan if it is believed he has been involved in illegal conduct and dereliction of duty, and he can be forced to leave if the Committee on the Discipline of Public Functionaries rules it so.

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