Sun, Jun 15, 2014 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Corruption likely to be Ma’s legacy

The recent allegations of corruption and kickbacks involving Yeh Shih-wen, former head of the Construction and Planning Administration (營建署) and now a former Taoyuan County deputy commissioner, who allegedly received bribes from a well-known construction firm over a construction project in the county’s Bade City (八德), has sent ripples throughout society, especially because it is likely that the whole case will snowball, and more people will become implicated.

More heads may roll in politics and business circles.

Some have attempted to explain away this behavior by saying it is all part of how the game is played, and has been for some time, talking of “unspoken rules” and “historical complicity,” but this just serves to highlight how commonplace — yet grievous — this complicity between politics and business has become.

At the same time, The Economist, which has been observing and analyzing the political and economic situation in Taiwan for some time, published a Crony Capitalism Index in March.

In this index, Taiwan was placed eighth on a list of 23 countries, up two places since 2007, the last time the index was published. This shows that Taiwan’s political and economic situation has dramatically deteriorated, and that democracy and the rule of law in this country is declining.

The term “crony capitalism” is a description of the degree to which politics and business are intermeshed.

Simply put, market competition is not based upon a free market and rule of law; it is founded upon the connections of those in power or the ruling party. This brand of political nepotism, involving the relatives of powerful individuals or groups, political allies and the rich, either as a result of blood relations, marital ties or acquaintance, or through political contributions or bribes, acts as a tool to consolidate the power of those already in positions of power, who use state resources, under a variety of guises, to recompense those who help them to this end.

And this is the model by which the political and business worlds go round: Money is used to secure political power, and political power and influence is used to allocate resources.

This perpetual vicious circle produces a collective political and corporate entity held together by the glue of mutual interest.

It monopolizes the allocation of public resources and results in the disintegration of the rule of law and the judiciary, gnawing away at the underpinnings of the democratic edifice.

This rent-seeking behavior also means that the benefits of national economic growth ends up in the hands of the minority, while the majority become impoverished.

This leads not only to the loss of competitiveness, but also to the death of social justice and fairness.

Crony capitalism is cropping up, in one form or the other, all over the world. It goes without saying that it is rampant in authoritarian or totalitarian states, where dictators openly sell their power for money.

In the US, it is mainly connected to business interests and political elections, in that arms, oil, medical and financial corporations provide huge political donations in connection to lobbying to have laws passed that benefit themselves, while politicians rely on the support of these corporations and their political donations to get into the White House or to be elected into the US Congress.

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