While former Non- Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標) may be released from prison after the president signs into law an amendment to the Accounting Act (會計法), he will still be banned from running for public office, Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) said yesterday.
“After meeting with representatives of the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Justice and the Central Election Commission, we have concluded that while the amendment removes the penalty for the crime, the verdict still holds,” Hsiao told a news conference held at the ministry.
“That means politicians convicted of corruption may be exempt from serving time in prison, but they will still be prohibited from running for office because the verdict remains valid,” Hsiao said.
The amendment, which was passed on Friday before the legislature went into recess, exempts elected officials from being prosecuted over the use of their special allowance.
The meeting also concluded that officials who are under investigation for misuse of their special allowance will not be prosecuted, while those who have been indicted will be declared not guilty.
Asked whether Yen could run for public office again, Hsiao said he could not comment on any particular case.
He added that his earlier answer was clear enough and that it is the Central Election Commission that decides on a candidate’s qualifications.
Yen was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for the misuse of public funds in hostess bars during his term as Taichung County Council speaker.
The amendment was adopted late on Friday night after a closed-door meeting between Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Vice Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and senior members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Democratic Progressive Party, Taiwan Solidarity Union and People First Party caucuses.
The surprise adoption of the amendment drew fire from the public, as well as many lawmakers who were excluded from the negotiations.
As Yen and other elected officials, councilors and officials imprisoned for embezzling their special allowance funds will be released once the amendment is promulgated, it has also raised questions on whether they would be allowed to run for public office, since the Election and Recall Act for Public Servants (公職人員選舉罷免法) bans people convicted of corruption from running for office.