Tue, Oct 09, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Ma protege’s jailing for graft sends message

By Shih Ming-hsiung 施明雄

Former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世), who served during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) time in office and who was convicted of “holding properties of unknown origin” in a corruption trial, has finally — following a drawn-out process of more than six years — been put behind bars, where he is to serve two years.

Meanwhile, an earlier sentence of 13 years and six months for receiving bribes in breach of official duties is still being appealed.

The glacial pace of prosecution against a senior official by Taiwan’s judicial system is baffling to many.

In 2010, when Lin was a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator, he helped Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥), the owner of Ti Yung Co, secure a slag treatment contract from CHC Resources, a subsidiary of state-owned China Steel Corp, in exchange for NT$63 million (US$2.04 million).

Two years later, when he was the Executive Yuan secretary-general, Lin once again sought to exploit his official position to help Ti Yung renew its contract with CHC Resources and to become a third signatory in a contract with CHC Resources and Chung Yao Corp, this time asking Chen for a bribe of NT$83 million.

The size of the bribe alarmed the businessman and he brought it to the attention of the Special Investigation Division.

When the KMT led the former party-state, it used the judicial branch to deal with dangwai (黨外, “outside the party”) dissidents. During the Martial Law era under presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), the party condoned corruption by officials, as long as they were loyal and did as they were told.

Yet, was it not a former KMT official — then-KMT Evaluation and Discipline Committee director-general Chen Keng-chin (陳庚金) — who, after the KMT lost the most recent election, openly called on public servants to “goof around as much as possible and milk their jobs for all they are worth” to “drag down the government”?

Then it was reported that even Lin Hsi-shan (林錫山), who had been Legislative Yuan secretary-general under former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), was found to have been on the take. Is Taiwan really such a banana republic?

If Chen Chi-hsiang had not recorded incriminating conversations with Lin and provided Special Investigation Division investigators with irrefutable evidence of his corruption, Lin would have just denied everything. In the end, his whole family was implicated, with even his mother, Shen Juo-lan (沈若蘭), receiving a five-month term for destroying evidence.

At the time, Lin, one of Ma’s political proteges, was a wealthy man and member of a local political family in Kaohsiung. His family was well off, yet it showed little regard for the community’s poor and dispossessed, whom Lin was supposed to represent: For instance, his mother saw little problem in burning the money that her son had received in bribes.

For somebody of such means and social status to be so utterly corrupt makes society question the road it has traveled down. Then, to take money gained through exploitation and send it up in flames to remove any trace when one’s fingers are caught in the cookie jar is unconscionable behavior.

Lin and his family are as greedy as they are stupid. Hopefully, their example can serve as a warning to other officials and set errant officials back on the straight and narrow. Corruption in government harms the nation and, in the end, it will bring about the downfall of the corrupt.

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