Tue, Nov 23, 2010 - Page 3 News List

2010 ELECTIONS: Ma touts efforts to fight corruption under his watch

By Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said fighting corruption was at the top of his administration’s agenda, adding that his government was “less corrupt” than the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

Most people expect their government to be clean and efficient, and to offer quality services, Ma said while meeting the winners of this year’s model civil servants competition at the Presidential Office in the morning.

“I hope we will work toward that goal,” he said. “More people pay more attention to a clean government because without it, it will be very difficult for a government to be efficient or provide good services.”

Ma said Taiwan’s global ranking on a government corruption list was 39th place when he came into office in 2008, but had improved to 37th place last year and 33rd place this year.

‘NOT PERFECT’

“It’s not perfect, but it is much better than before,” he said. “Fighting corruption is an important policy and I’m happy to see that our efforts have produced some positive results.”

Lauding the quality of public servants, Ma said he hoped they would be more proactive and kind to the people they serve. They should also refrain from accepting free meals or taking gifts. Once they developed the habit of rejecting unnecessary gifts and meals, they would be less corrupt, he said.

“You must remember that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” he said. “People’s trust in the government is the biggest asset a government can have, but corruption is the most powerful corrosion of such trust.”

Ma said that in the past two-and-a-half years, the state and local governments had seen changes to their structure. The central government is to be downsized from 37 to 29 agencies and some counties and cities will be upgraded to a higher administrative status or merged to become special municipalities. The purpose of this was to elevate their competitiveness, which is hard to recover once it is lost, he said.

CELTIC TIGER?

Ma said Taiwan should avoid the example of Ireland, which had the highest GNP in Europe four years ago, its impressive economic performance earning it the nickname the “Celtic Tiger.”

However, things began to change about a decade ago and the global economic downturn made things worse, he said. Ireland’s economy contracted 7 percent last year, causing another wave of emigration, he said.

“It has a lot to do with the efforts of all citizens, but we cannot deny the role the government plays at this juncture,” he said.

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