Control Yuan to probe GIO over Kuo

‘COVER-UP’? : Control Yuan member Chien Lin Whei-jun registered her intention to investigate the case involving a Web log with articles containing offensive remarks

By Shih Hsiu-chuan AND Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Wed, Mar 18, 2009 - Page 1

The Control Yuan will launch an investigation into the Government Information Office’s (GIO) response to the scandal involving an official who allegedly wrote articles defaming Taiwan and Taiwanese, Control Yuan member Chien Lin Whei-jun (錢林慧君) said.

The GIO on Monday referred Kuo Kuan-ying (郭冠英), director of the information division at Taiwan’s representative office in Toronto, to the Judicial Yuan’s Commission on the Disciplinary Sanctions of Functionaries for investigation.

The referral came after the GIO said it was dissatisfied with Kuo’s explanation. GIO Vice Minister George Hsu (?? said on Monday that there was a “substantial gap” between the evidence and Kuo’s answers concerning the articles published under the pen name “Fan Lan-chin” (范蘭欽).

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) accused Kuo last week of being Fan, whose Web log carries numerous articles containing offensive remarks. Kuo said he had only written one of the articles.

The articles refer to Taiwanese as taibazi (台巴子, “Taiwanese rednecks”) and wokou (倭寇, “Japanese pirates”). The articles say “the imposition of martial law [was] a benevolent act” and that “[China] should spend many years suppressing [people in Taiwan] instead of granting any political freedom once it has taken Taiwan by force.”

Kuo was summoned back to Taiwan to answer questions at the GIO in a meeting on Monday, where he denied that he was Fan.

Control Yuan member Huang Wu-tzu (黃武次) yesterday withdrew a request he filed on Monday to investigate, but Chien Lin disagreed.

The GIO’s referral of Kuo to the judiciary’s commission made clear that a Control Yuan investigation was needed, Control Yuan Secretary-General Chen Feng-yi (陳豐義) quoted Huang as saying.

Chien Lin yesterday registered her intention with the Control Yuan to investigate the case. Chen said the Control Yuan respected the authority of individual members.

“After Kuo explained himself to the GIO, the GIO failed to give the public a clear account of the matter. I want to find out whether the GIO tried to cover up for Kuo,” Chien Lin said.

The Control Yuan’s decision came after Taipei City councilors Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) and Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) visited the Control Yuan yesterday, demanding it look into the case.

The city councilors accused Kuo of violating Article 114 and Article 115 of the Criminal Code on treason and public intimidation and Article 5 of the Law on Discipline of Civil Servants (公務人員懲戒法) concerning dereliction of duty.

Later yesterday, GIO Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said the GIO had sent all the evidence the office had collected, as well as evidence from Kuan and other sources, to the commission.

Su dismissed criticism by DPP lawmakers that the GIO had shifted responsibility onto the commission, saying that the GIO’s handling of the matter was in accordance with the law.

“If it is proven that Kuo is Fan Lan-chin, Kuo will be severely punished. But right now, given the discrepancies between our understanding and Kuo’s explanation, we need the Commission on the Disciplinary Sanctions of Functionaries to clarify the matter. We believe the commission will make a definitive decision,” Su said.

Legislators across party lines yesterday expressed dissatisfaction with the GIO’s handling of the matter.

At a press conference, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus deputy secretary-general Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said the GIO’s decision to move Kuo to a non-managerial position was “unacceptable.”

Lin said Kuo was a “butcher” who had sabotaged ethnic harmony in Taiwan, adding that the commission should mete out severe punishment and the Control Yuan should investigate.

Separately yesterday, Kuan said the GIO should suspend Kuo or fire him and warned that about 70 percent of officials who are referred to the commission for investigation escape punishment or receive only a slap on the wrist.

During a question-and-answer session with DPP legislators Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) and Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) agreed with Huang and Su that although public officials enjoy freedom of speech, they should not publish remarks that insult the nation.

Liu said that the government disapproved of the remarks in the articles, but he believed the majority of the nation’s public officials did not think that way.

“If we can deal with the matter of Kuo properly, all of the nation’s public officials will see that we disapprove of [such remarks],” Liu said.

But Su described Kuo as “incompetent,” saying he did not deserve to earn a salary paid by taxpayers.

When approached by reporters, Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) said it was not his place to comment because Kuo was a GIO staffer, but that it was “inappropriate” for a person on the government payroll to harm the nation’s image.

Also yesterday, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) filed a treason lawsuit against Kuo at the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office.

TSU Deputy Secretary-General Liu Yi-teh (劉一德) said in front of the district prosecutors’ ­office that Kuo had enjoyed a high salary paid by Taiwan, yet published articles defaming Taiwan and the Taiwanese and provoking ethnic tensions in violation of the law.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said that according to government statistics, only 5.97 percent of public servants lost their posts after being referred to the commission. The DPP caucus would closely watch the probe into Kuo, Lee said.