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Fri, Jun 02, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Anti-corruption work tops `to do' list at MOJ: Chen

CLEAN POLITICS Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan put the cost of corruption at NT$510 billion per year

By Jou Ying-cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) told the Legislative Yuan yesterday that anti-corruption efforts are the "priority of priorities in the justice ministry's tasks.'"

He estimated that the money wasted through corruption every year makes up about 30 percent of the government's annual total expenditure, or about NT$510 billion.

Yesterday was the first time Chen went to the legislature to face interpellation by lawmakers since he assumed the justice minister's portfolio. Unlike some of the new Cabinet's scholars-turned-ministers, the former four-term legislator was not given much of a hard time by his former colleagues.

However, the reputed disharmony between Chen and the director of the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau, Wang Kuang-ru (王光宇), was the focus of several questions from legislators. Although both Chen and Wang denied the speculation of a rift, they apparently remain clearly divided over a proposal to promote the Investigation Bureau to an independent ministry.

In his policy report yesterday, Chen also stressed that his plan to create a nationwide record of every citizen's bank accounts and other assets would not inconvenience people, nor would it violate citizens' privacy -- as some have charged.

"The passage of the telecommunication monitoring law has shown that for the purpose of cracking down on crime, the public can accept a monitoring system," Chen said. "Just like telecommunication monitoring, a bank account record could only be checked with a warrant."

The ties between the ministry and its Investigation Bureau was another focus of questions from lawmakers. KMT legislator Lin Hong-tsung (林宏宗) suggested the bureau be promoted to the ministry level.

Chen clearly disagreed, but Wang, after some hesitation, said he would be glad to see it happen.

Lin asked some 20 bureau staffers who were at the session to vote "if you agree with your director." Almost all raised their hands, leaving Chen speechless.

DPP legislator Perng Shaw-jiin (彭紹瑾) asked if the alteration of the plan for a new anti-corruption administration was due to the Investigation Bureau's reluctance to have some of its departments merged into the new institution.

Chen denied the resistance had affected the plan.

"The final agreement that the bureau's anti-corruption department would not be merged into the new administration was not due to such resistance. Instead, the overriding concern was what would be the best for the anti-corruption effort." Chen said.

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