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Mon, Jan 24, 2000 - Page 4 News List

Anti-corruption drive renewed

UNDERWORLD POLITICS A culture of bribery and the large number of convicted criminals among the island's lawmakers is an accepted fact of life for many, but new laws and renewed zeal by the Judicial Yuan offer some hope for radical change

By Irene Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

"It's a double standard that the public is taking. When it comes to their own cases, they would request the application of fairly strict rules."

But when it comes to others' cases, such as those of election bribery, they don't think evidence is so important."

HOPE FOR CHANGE

A recent survey by the Common Wealth Magazine shows that "black gold" politics has become the evil most resented by Taiwan people. One out of every four respondents thinks it is disgraceful to live in Taiwan, where the political and economic environment has been "polluted" by increasing numbers of unscrupulous politicians.

Four years ago, the creation of the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防制條例) was expected to be able to deter the country's mafia from tampering with politics and to bring forth prospects of a healthy democracy.

At the time the act was passed by the legislature high expectations were raised that convicted politicians would not be able to run for office.

The act also imposes liabilities on a party whose nominees are convicted of any crime stipulated by the act, for five years after the nomination.

The law itself looks powerful, but it needs effective implementation, critics have pointed out. The issue of black gold politics has been central to any discussion of the political environment in Taiwan. Sadly, the frequent pledges of the government have been perceived as nothing more than campaign slogans.

"At first it was frustration that I felt with the government's inaction. Now I feel not only frustrated but I am bored with the promises that are made but never carried out," Chiu said.

Disappointed as many people might feel, there are still optimists who are looking for ways to make the government more open, honest and accountable.

"The first step is to have the citizens take an active part in the democratic process," Chen Dung-sheng said. "Let them know they can have a say in issues that concern them. Through this some of them might find themselves talented at dealing with public issues."

Chen said the public should be encouraged to take part in community activities or other grassroots actions. Public forums or meetings of local government also offer opportunities for the public to have a voice.

"The more deeply they care about society, the less likely it is their electoral decisions will be bought off," Chen said.

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