Sat, Jun 18, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Letting go of redundant agencies

By Lee Hsiao-feng 李筱峰

“Please believe that this is for real,” President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government said a few days ago, after the Cabinet passed an amendment to the Organic Act of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法). The government wants the public to believe that its latest round of “government restructuring” will be real reform.

To this, one might like to say: “Perhaps you are ‘for real’ this time, but does this not imply that all the reforms you talked about in the past were fake?”

Real reformers need not worry about people not believing their reforms are in earnest. Real reformers are not only capable of putting aside vested interests, they also know how to transcend pre-existing concepts and put aside the burdens of tradition. Otherwise, reform may not be able to achieve all it is meant to do. The Ma administration’s latest round of “government restructuring” is a case in point.

One might have expected government restructuring to include scrapping redundant agencies like the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC) and the Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission (OCAC), but these bodies have remained intact.

Mongolia has long been an independent country, and there are less than 100 Mongolians in Taiwan. There are not many Tibetans in Taiwan, either, yet we still keep the MTAC, which receives NT$160 million (US$5.5 million) of the national budget.

What is really funny is that the MTAC has more than 70 people working for it — not many fewer than the number of people they are meant to be serving. There is probably not such a laughable organization anywhere else on the planet. Of course, the reason this ridiculous organization cannot be axed is because the Republic of China that exists in Ma’s head includes Mongolia and Tibet.

Another question is whether the OCAC should be abolished or incorporated into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). After all, expatriate affairs are normally handled by diplomats. When the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) retreated in defeat to Taiwan, it established the OCAC to persuade Chinese people residing overseas to take its side and stop them from leaning toward Beijing. However, times are different now and this organization has become redundant, yet each year it still spends NT$1.56 billion of our national budget.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) should also have been absorbed into the MOFA. If we are serious in saying that Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation, then relations between Taiwan and China should be international affairs and matters relating to China should be included in foreign diplomacy. It is true that diplomatic relations with China are extremely complex, so it would be a good idea to establish a special China affairs division within the foreign ministry. This would also be a good way of putting the idea of equality of sovereignty into practice.

The Chinese Cultural Association, originally known as the Chinese Cultural Renaissance Movement Promotion Committee, is another body that could be done away with. While it is a civic group, it still receives money from the National Treasury via the Cabinet. This organization was originally established by dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in 1966 in response to the Cultural Revolution launched by the Chinese Communist Party, and it has Chinese nationalism as its basic theme.

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