Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Control, Exam yuans must go

By Andrew Cheng 鄭泰安

In violation of the separation of powers, the Control Yuan has requested a constitutional interpretation of the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations (政黨及其附隨組織不當取得財產處理條例). It now faces criticism for overstepping its bounds and causing disorder in the system.

Coincidentally, the Examination Yuan approved a watered down pension reform bill that ignores intergenerational justice, which came under immediate criticism for speeding up the collapse of the Civil Servants Pension Fund by three years.

Examination Yuan member Chou Yu-sun (周玉山) then invoked Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and the Cultural Revolution when comparing the government’s pension reform plan, drawing ire from academics.

Calls to abolish both the the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan have been growing.

The Control Yuan has been criticized for being inefficient and infringing on the Executive Yuan’s powers; for reacting to unsubstantiated rumors instead of handling matters within its remit.; and for behaving as if it were the legislature when its members are unelected.

Following constitutional changes in 2000 that stipulated Control Yuan members are nominated by the president, the institution is increasingly becoming one where people get a seat as a reward for services rendered.

The system for appointing civil servants is an indirect evolution of the old Chinese imperial examination system. The Control Yuan’s attack on transitional justice makes it obvious that the transitional justice process must include the abolishment of both the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan.

Amending the Constitution or drawing up a new constitution is the first step toward this goal.

After the abolishment of the two institutions, their duties could be transferred to the remaining three branches of government — the Executive Yuan, the Legislative Yuan and the Judicial Yuan — and their staff and budgets transferred to other agencies in need, such as the Environmental Protection Administration or the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

In the early 20th century, influenced by China’s 5,000-year-old feudal society, Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) modeled his five-branch constitution on the imperial censor system and examination system by adding the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan to the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

After Sun’s death, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government established the two additional branches in 1931 and 1930 respectively, and included the five-branch system in the 1947 Republic of China Constitution, which was later brought to Taiwan.

Since the lifting of martial law in 1987, Taiwan still has not conducted a comprehensive review of the Constitution through a truly democratic process. This should now be one of the main aims of the transitional justice process.

China’s feudal culture continues to have a strong influence on Taiwanese culture. The existence of the Examination Yuan and the Control Yuan are symbols of this influence on the upper levels of Taiwan’s political system and at the same time evidence of the undemocratic nature of the Constitution.

If Taiwan’s democracy is to continue to develop instead of regress, resolving the shortcomings of the Constitution is of the utmost urgency; this includes abolishing the Examination Yuan and the Control Yuan. Whether or not this will happen in the foreseeable future constitutes a test of the foresight and determination of Taiwan’s civil society.

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