Law-abiding citizens dutifully played their roles as actors in society’s grand narrative when they filed their tax returns as the financial year came to a close on Thursday. However, in view of recent media reports about the conduct of high-ranking officials, many taxpayers are no doubt shaking their heads in disgust and irritation over how their hard-earned money is being frittered away by the government.
Public Administration 101: Civil servants are on the taxpayers’ payroll and their job description calls for them to serve the people.
Taxpayers consequently expect Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien (王建煊), for example, to perform his duty as head of the nation’s watchdog by keeping a close eye on the executive branch and launch investigations when irregularities arise.
Instead, what the public is treated to every time Wang’s name hits the headlines are his views on everything and anything except the issues which are actually relevant to the Control Yuan’s functions. There is a distinct lack of stories about his agency tackling major cases.
After causing a stir in 2010 with his loquacity while talking to reporters about his views on sex, Wang made headlines again earlier this week with comments about women’s breasts. In his new book Where to Find Justice? Wang wrote: “If big breasts are fake, it feels weird to touch them; it feels uncomfortable and meaningless.” It is difficult to overstate the extent to which people have been amazed at Wang’s ineptitude as a public servant.
Since taking the helm of the Control Yuan in August 2008, Wang has published six books. If he has the time to write so many books, many wonder why he does not seem to have time to do what is actually required of him by investigating issues such as the public’s increasing concern about Taipower’s management inefficiency, the lack of transparency in the company’s pricing and purchasing contracts with independent power producers and allegations of price gouging in the wake of the government’s decision to allow increases in fuel and electricity prices, for example.
If Wang is really so enthusiastic about giving lectures on sex and relationships, he would do well to quit his job so that taxpayers’ money could actually pay for someone who is serious about the job and will effectively monitor the government’s actions and probe malfeasance by government officials at all levels.
Another cause for taxpayer disgust is the leadership of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).
The city government’s victory in its bid to host the 2017 Summer Universiade is certainly an honor, and for this achievement it must be applauded. However, is the city government fraudulently billing taxpayers underneath the facade of the games? This question is floating in many minds due to the gigantic budget the city government has proposed for the event.
After initially suggesting a budget of NT$35 billion (US$1.17 billion) in October last year, the Hau administration raised the amount to NT$37.5 billion after the International University Sports Federation announced in November that the city had won the bid to host the games. The budget was then further increased to NT$48.7 billion in a report presented by Hau in April this year. In other words, in less than six months, the proposed budget for hosting the games has increased by NT$13.7 billion, or nearly 40 percent.