Wed, Jul 11, 2012 - Page 8 News List

The real victims of corruption scandals

By Tsai Chung-yueh 蔡中岳

The true victims of the corruption scandal involving former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) is the general public, but this is something that has been completely ignored.

Some media outlets have even reported that the man who exposed the case has been systematically engaged in an act of “political assassination.”

Frankly speaking, I am not at all surprised that this kind of bribe solicitation took place. Considering that the companies that repeatedly pollute the environment still win one bid after another, it is easy to conclude that something is not right.

All these polluters make up one big group of criminals. The only question is whether the government will take action to resolve this problem.

What is most irritating is that Lin released a statement after he was arrested, saying he would return all the money that he had obtained illegally and that he would devote himself to public welfare. By switching the focus onto this issue, he has turned things on their head while disregarding the public welfare.

This vicious cover-up puts the spotlight on the process of soliciting, taking and then donating money, but pays not the slightest attention to the effects these actions have had.

According to Article 10 of the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例), statements like Lin’s are irrelevant because illegally obtained kickbacks must always be paid back. Officials in cases like these always resort to using public welfare and charity as a fig leaf.

However, the key point that should really be the main focus is this: What are the costs of such structural criminality and what does the public have to sacrifice as a result of it? The answers to these questions are: the environment and public health.

According to Greater Kaohsiung’s Environmental Protection Bureau, Ti Yung Co — the company run by the man who exposed the whole affair, Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥) — is a notorious polluter that has violated environmental law and been fined many times in the past. The scandal was exposed only because Chen allegedly failed to win a contract because Lin was reportedly asking for more money than Chen was willing to pay. If Chen had not exposed the case, this group of criminal polluters would have continued their illegal use of land to store crude iron, scrap iron, iron slag, desulfurization slag and other materials that create more air pollution.

Since it had to pay such enormous kickbacks to win the contract, it is likely that the company felt compelled to save money by cutting corners and doing a shoddy job. This would mean increasing pollution to be able to pay the bribes and still make a profit. No matter where the kickbacks went, the harm done to the public by all this pollution has already occurred. This cannot be remedied by simply returning illegal kickbacks and devoting oneself to public welfare and charity. What happened to the supervisory system that is supposed to monitor this kind of situation?

If Lin is genuine in admitting that he made a mistake and saying that he would to devote himself to public welfare, he should take responsibility for removing these heaps of scrap metal and slag and for returning the land to pristine condition.

Next, he should name those politicians and businesspeople who taught him how to solicit bribes and whose criminal relationships have conspired with the big polluters allowing them to continue destroying the environment, so that the people of Greater Kaohsiung will no longer have to suffer from these environmental hazards.

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