Fri, Apr 03, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet passes bills governing civil officials

'BIG MOUTH' The bills would impose stricter standards on the behavior and performance of public officials, as well as limit their political activities

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet yesterday approved a new set of bills, including the so-called “big mouth clause” (大嘴巴條款), which states that politically appointed officials should resign if their rhetoric is deemed flawed and damages the government's credibility and image.

A number of Cabinet members recently came under fire over a series of gaffes. Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) said last month that the ministry could send “kitchen waste” to impoverished people when he meant to say “the food leftover in the military.” Chen apologized afterward.

Central Personnel Administration Minister Chen Ching-hsiou (陳清秀) got himself in hot water last month when he used the analogy of “stripping someone of their clothes” if officials were required to give full disclosure of their financial history and status.

He also came under fire for advocating a salary increase for all political appointees as a way to boost job performance and raise work ethics.

The proposed bills, which will be forwarded to the legislature for approval, would also require politically appointed officials to step down for poor policies that caused major harm to the country and the public, and for failure to perform their duties because of health or other reasons.

On political neutrality, the bills say politically appointed officials should be impartial to any individuals and groups and be prohibited from using administrative power and resources to campaign for candidates and political parties. They should also practice political neutrality and integrity during their term in office and upon retirement. Furthermore, they cannot campaign and solicit votes for candidates and political parties during elections.

The Cabinet suggested excluding the state public prosecutor-general — nominated in the same way as politically appointed officials — from the proposed regulations as the top prosecutor should be subject to more strict regulations governing judicial personnel.

One of the bills also proposed suspending the monthly pension given to retired political appointees during the time they work for state-owned enterprises or state-established institutions amid criticism that officials receive double payments.

The Cabinet yesterday dropped plans to create five politically appointed councilor positions in each agency under the Executive Yuan after the initiative recently proposed by the Central Personnel Administration drew fire from lawmakers.

Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) told a press conference held after the Cabinet meeting yesterday that the initiative “was inconsistent with current political needs.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER

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