Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday said his decision to suspend Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) Chairman Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝) was a necessary precautionary measure.
Likening running the government to a surgeon performing an operation, Su said the government must stand firm in defending its image and honoring its commitment to accountability.
"It is like surgery. Performing an operation is usually the last resort for a surgeon trying to maintain a patient's health. The surgeon must perform the surgery calmly and decisively ... the surgeon must hold his hands still when he performs the operation," Su said.
"Likewise, the government cannot flinch or hesitate when defending its political integrity," said the premier while responding to media inquiries about Kong's suspension on the sidelines of a competition for Executive Yuan employees.
Kong is accused of accepting bribes during his term as president of the Taiwan Sugar Corp (TaiSugar, 台糖) between December 2003 and June 2004. He was released on NT$500,000 (US$ 156,250) bail after questioning by prosecutors on Thursday.
Before the Executive Yuan ordered the suspension, Su had said that all Cabinet members should adhere to the highest moral standards.
Su had first let it be known that he expected Kong to resign on Thursday and the Executive Yuan had expected Kong to step down from his post voluntarily, but they waited all day on Friday in vain for him to tender his resignation.
Kong ignored the premier's message and did not even show up at Su's office to explain himself. Then on Friday night, Su finally decided to suspend Kong from his duties as chairman of FSC.
The Executive Yuan said the case, which has been delivered to the Control Yuan for censure, has badly affected the government's image. Under the Act on Discipline of Public Functionaries (公務員懲戒法), Kong has been suspended from his duties at the FSC, and the vacancy left by his suspension will be filled by his deputy, Lu Tung-ying (呂東英), for the time being, said a statement issued by the Executive Yuan late on Friday night.
The legislative caucus of the Democratic Progressive Party expressed support yesterday for the Cabinet's decision to suspend Kong, saying it set a good example for the government to follow when handling similar cases in the future.