The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Taiwan Provincial Government have been accused of patronage appointments after rehiring controversial former civil servant Kuo Kuan-ying (郭冠英), who has outraged many with remarks that critics said amounted to Kuo inciting racial hatred among “Mainlander” Chinese against ethnic Taiwanese.
At a legislative committee meeting yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) questioned Kuo’s hiring in February as foreign affairs secretary at the Nantou County-based office of the streamlined Taiwan Provincial Government.
“How can a government agency waste taxpayers’ money by hiring a former civil servant who is older than 60 and nearing retirement? When Kuo is eligible for retirement in July, he can collect pension benefits worth more than NT$5 million [US$165,930],” Tsai said.
“How can the government use the state coffers for such an egregious case of patronage?” Tsai asked at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
The DPP legislator accused Kuo of “sowing national discord and provoking antagonism among ethnic groups.”
“Ten people applied for this job and six of them met the qualifications. However, the decision was made to hire Kuo, who is already nearing retirement. This has led to complaints from other applicants,” Tsai said.
“Look at the Sunflower movement. It organized an international media center for translation and interpretation. This shows that we have many young people who are proficient in foreign languages,” Tsai said. “Does Taiwan not have many people who are highly qualified for such jobs? This is such a rotten government.”
Kuo sparked a public outcry in 2009 when he used the pseudonym Fan Lan-chin (范蘭欽) to write political commentaries on Web sites in which he referred to himself as a “high-class Chinese Mainlander,” while referring to ethnic Taiwanese as descendants of “Japanese pirates and rednecks” and Tai-ba-zi (台巴子), meaning “country bumpkins.”
Kuo also wrote: “[China] should spend many years suppressing [Taiwanese] instead of granting [them] any political freedom once they have taken Taiwan by force.”
At the time, Kuo was in the diplomatic service with the now-defunct Government Information Office, stationed in Toronto, Canada.
He was dismissed from that job in 2009 due to media reports and public protests over his writings.
Critics accused Kuo of being a racist, saying his writing aimed to instigate ethnic hatred by saying Mainlanders are superior to “lower-class” ethnic Taiwanese.
Tsai said he has checked with officials at the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration and was told that Kuo’s job was only “conditional” and the work had been done by a MOFA section chief in the past.
“However, the position suddenly became open this year and Kuo was rehired and I suspect MOFA or the provincial government office worked behind the scenes to accomplish this,” he added. “I also suspect President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration was behind that manipulation.”
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shih Ting (石定) said his ministry was not involved in hiring Kuo.
“All personnel hiring decisions at MOFA are treated in an open, fair and equitable manner. We will try to clarify which department is responsible for this post,” Shih said.