Wed, Jun 12, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Scandal in Hualien just tip of the iceberg

By Paul Lei 雷顯威

On June 4, the Control Yuan approved a motion proposed by members Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲), Wang Mei-yu (王美玉) and Eugene Jao (趙永清) to impeach former Hualien County Government deputy secretary-general Hsieh Kung-ping (謝公秉) and two others in connection with the Hualien County Government’s conduct of a procurement plan for creating a “media database to promote county government policies.”

The Control Yuan said that by using restricted tendering, the county government had turned the news media into a mouthpiece for its departments and undermined the public’s trust in the objectivity and impartiality of the news media.

This case has given outsiders a glimpse to the tip of the iceberg as to how former Hualien County commissioner Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁), nicknamed the “king of Hualien,” used marketing methods to embellish his policy achievements.

However, the rest of the iceberg remains hidden, while Hsieh and the other two are being scapegoated for implementing the project. It will take further efforts by the Control Yuan and judicial agencies to reveal the truth of the matter.

Two of the Control Yuan members in charge of investigating the case — Wang Yu-ling and Wang Mei-yu — are veteran media workers.

As such, they should comprehend that if media workers have an opportunity to change careers and start working in the civil service, a state-run company or a think tank, they should follow their consciences by administering policies in accordance with the law and playing the role of gatekeepers.

Hsieh and the others who are being impeached are familiar with the local media environment, so they were made responsible for implementing the project.

However, how could the departments that control the purse strings have audited and approved the project’s budget and approved its implementation if higher-ranking officials — their boss or bosses — had not told them to do so?

The implementation of the project under Hsieh’s direction is merely the tip of the iceberg, while what remains hidden beneath the surface consists of those who stood to gain the most from implementing the project.

Hsieh might have thought that Fu would protect him, so when the case came to light, Hsieh was willing to step forward and take the blame, in the hope that the investigation would not go deeper and reveal the whole iceberg.

However, Hsieh should carefully consider what happened last year after the case was brought to light following an investigation by judicial agencies. The county government immediately issued a news release dissociating itself from Hsieh’s involvement in the case.

The case also touches upon the margins of judicial and media ethics.

Hsieh should return to his original mission as a media worker by revealing the entire truth of the case. If he did that, it would make him a positive role model for anyone learning how to report the news.

Paul Lei is a veteran media worker and a former secretary of the Control Yuan.

Translated by Julian Clegg

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