Fri, Oct 17, 2008 - Page 0 News List

All this talk of reform is falling on deaf ears

By Lu I-ming 呂一銘

Attorney C.V. Chen (陳長文) made heated comments at a recent government ethics committee meeting about how National Property Administration head Kuo Wu-po (郭武博) received only a minor demerit from the Ministry of Finance for visiting a hostess lounge with businessmen. Chen called on Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) to dish out stricter punishment, saying he was “astounded” at the lack of interest senior officials seemed to have in the matter.

That very same day, the Cabinet made Kuo an advisor. The speed of the decision was also astounding.

This is probably not the only thing about the government that should stun Chen.

Many senior officials who have been sued or caused a lot of controversy still hold high positions, such as Chen Song-chu (陳松柱), chairman of the Taiwan Asset Management Corp, and Ho Hung-jung (何鴻榮), who resigned from his post as chief of the Taipei City Bureau of Civil Affairs after being accused of neglecting his duties and having an affair with a secretary and is now chairman of Trade-Van Information Services. Another example was the recent by-elections for Taiwan Public Television Service board directors, where the review council — which should consist of “disinterested community members” — were instead a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, making them both player and referee.

Meanwhile, the vice president of the Central News Agency has not worked as a reporter or editor for three years. As someone who has worked in the media my whole life, I was astounded that something like this could happen.

There have also been recent reports that the Presidential Office spent NT$520,000 (US$16,000) commissioning Lee and Li Attorneys-at-Law, where C.V. Chen is a managing partner, to look into the “state affairs” fund case. Given the sensitivity of the matter, C.V. Chen’s involvement in the investigation raises questions and begs clarifications.

He has written articles criticizing the KMT for its handling of its party assets and expressing hope that the KMT would give up all its assets and leave the past behind to win more respect.

He has also asked that the KMT promise to return remaining assets to the national treasury or donate them to public interest groups after the presidential election.

The party, however, has done nothing in this regard — especially now, when everyone is facing tougher times.

Not long ago at a meeting with grassroots organizations, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) made an even more astounding statement when he said that the KMT would keep its party assets — worth approximately NT$20 billion — because they could help the party eliminate “black gold” practices in the nomination process.

It is quite astounding that C.V. Chen, with his lofty morals, has failed to follow up on this matter.

Recently, he published another article about the promise of government ethics. At the end of his article, Chen said he hoped the civil service system would set a standard to encourage capable individuals to perform to the best of their potential while warning the less qualified that their performance is being monitored.

This may be the best comment regarding skill and virtue in government.

The problem is that all this serious talk is falling on deaf ears. The examples above should be adequate to help C.V. Chen understand why the government has upset so many people.

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