Sat, Apr 07, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Legislators want action taken on stalled graft bill

HELD UP Lawmakers from the main political parties called on the KMT to stop blocking a bill that, if passed, will pave the way to setting up an anti-corruption agency

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

A group of lawmakers from across party lines yesterday appealed for the quick handling of a bill designed to enable the establishment of an anti-corruption agency. The bill has been stalled in the legislature for weeks by objections raised by the majority KMT caucus.

The lawmakers argued that an agency specializing in cracking down on corruption is badly needed by Taiwan, which has won a bad name internationally for its corruption problem.

"Even the US has listed corruption as a major barrier to trade with Taiwan. The corruption problem has continued from the time of the old government to the new one without any indication that it is dying out," said New Party Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆).

Other legislators joining the cause yesterday included independent Eugene Jao (趙永清), the KMT's Chen Shei-saint (陳學聖) and the People First Party's Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄).

They cited the examples of Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), which have helped reduce political corruption and increase the competitiveness of those countries.

The Ministry of Justice has submitted to the legislature a bill to establish an anti-corruption agency, but the bill has not been able to move on to a legislative committee for review and debate.

According to Jao, KMT legislators have blocked the bill in the Procedure Committee six times in a row.

"It is time for the KMT, which lost power because of its `black gold' problem, to show its sincerity and resolution to attack this problem and stop barring the establishment of the anti-corruption agency," Jao said.

In response, KMT caucus whip Cheng Yung-chin (鄭永金) explained that his party had not objected to establishing the anti-corruption agency, but thinks that the proposed bill deserves further consideration. "If we aren't careful, we may create a redundant `administrative monster.' It will be too late to rectify by then," Cheng said.

Cheng said it would be more appropriate to discuss the matter in an inter-party negotiation before letting the bill proceed to a legislative committee, and that the KMT would soon submit its own proposal for an anti-corruption agency under the Control Yuan.

Under the ministry's proposal, the anti-corruption agency would be directly under the ministry.

Currently, the ministry has a Government Ethics Department, while most other government agencies have a department serving a similar purpose.

The KMT has argued that the key issue is to boost the efficiency of these departments, and that it would be a waste of public resources to set up the anti-corruption agency while these departments already exist. Under its proposal, the "ethics departments" would be abolished.

Chen, a pro-reform KMT legislator, however, said these details should be discussed while the bill is debated in a legislative committee, rather than brought up even before the bill has had a chance to go forward.

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