The involvement of elected officials, professors and staff at colleges and academic institutions involved in irregularities related to the use of certain public funds could be decriminalized following the passage of an amendment to the Accounting Act (會計法) in the legislature at midnight on Friday.
Former independent legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), who was sentenced on Nov. 28 last year to three-and-a-half years in prison for misuse of public funds during his term as Taichung County Council speaker, may be released from jail once the revised act is promulgated.
Yen was found guilty of misusing council funds between 1998 and 2000 after spending council money at hostess bars and KTV lounges.
National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who is under investigation for misusing receipts to claim reimbursements from the National Science Council, and several hundred other college professors facing similar allegations would also be cleared under the amendment.
Drafted by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏), the amendment cleared the legislature at 11:31pm without any dissenting votes after caucus whips endorsed the proposal.
The move by caucus whips to push through the amendment on the last day of the legislative session on Friday was described as a “night attack.”
The amendment stipulates that the budget expenses of elected officials for conducting research projects, recruiting assistants, paying overtime salaries and taking overseas business trips should be considered legal, as should the use of budgets by village and borough mayors until the end of 2010.
Under the amendment, potential civil, administrative and criminal liability for the disbursement, handling, reimbursement and use of budgets earmarked for colleges and academic institutions before the end of last year will be overturned, as will the financial responsibility of related personnel.