President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged top government officials to reinforce anti-corruption measures in the wake of the allegations involving former Cabinet secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世), and instructed government ethics agencies to conduct thorough background checks on new personnel and ensure their integrity.
Speaking at an integrity forum organized by the Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption, Ma described the scandal as a humiliation for the administration and vowed to regain the public’s trust with a renewed determination to combat corruption.
“I was shocked and saddened to learn about Lin’s corruption case, but what’s important is for us to show determination and take actions to defend our integrity ... Faced with possible corruption cases, government officials must take the initiative to uncover the truth, deal with the case immediately and cooperate with investigators,” he said at Taipei’s Foreign Service Institute.
He said he expected the executive branch to learn from Lin’s case and regain the public’s confidence by reinforcing anti-corruption measures, including establishing a transparency mechanism for lobbying.
As most government officials at the forum mentioned the issue of legislators’ lobbying during the forum, Ma said he agreed that the government should establish a lobbying mechanism to systematize the process and make it transparent, with the aim of holding responsible parties accountable if corruption cases arise with links to lobbying. He also instructed the Executive Yuan to finish designing the mechanism within two months.
“Lin’s corruption case did damage the administration’s reputation, but we should take it as an opportunity to think about ways to regain public’s trust. I expect the forum to be the beginning of more efforts to combat corruption because building a clean government remains our goal,” he said, while acknowledging that he could not “guarantee 100 percent” that all officials in his administration would be free of corruption even with the measures in place.
Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) said poor implementation of the Lobbying Act (遊說法) added to the difficulty of eradicating corruption and he promised to strengthen efforts to implement the law.
Quoting former US president James Madison, Chen said: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” as he stressed the importance of auditing systems in combating bribery.
The forum was the Ma administration’s latest attempt to repair the damage caused by the scandal.
A total of 52 top-level government officials, including Ma and Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), attended the two-hour event.
Issues addressed during the forum included preventive measures against corruption, reinforcing the function of government ethics agencies and crisis-handling skills in response to corruption allegations.
Discussions were also held on the government’s handling of the Lin case, in which Lin is accused of accepting NT$63 million (US$2.1 million) in bribes from a businessman to help him secure a contract from a subsidiary of China Steel Corp (中鋼).
The corruption scandal has sent Ma’s already weak support to a new low, as the latest poll released by TVBS last week showed that Ma’s approval rating dropped to 15 percent after the scandal broke out late last month.
Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) dismissed criticisms of the government’s crisis-handling skills in the Lin scandal and presented a document to demonstrate that Lin did not interfere with the personnel appointment in China Steel.