The Legislative Yuan yesterday paved the way for the establishment of an anti-corruption agency under the Ministry of Justice as it passed the Organic Statute for Anti-Corruption Administration (廉政署組織條例).
The new agency will be responsible for formulating, coordinating and promoting anti-corruption policies and regulations, the law states. It will also have the right to investigate corruption-related crimes and supervise the ethics divisions of various government agencies.
The law calls for the formation of a review committee that will be responsible for providing professional advice to the agency. The committee will comprise 11 to 15 members selected from representatives of the legal, financial and construction sectors, as well as academics and government officials.
The new agency is to replace the ministry’s Department of Government Ethics — a move that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has opposed, calling it a “redundancy.”
There has been much dispute as to whether the anti-corruption administration should be independent of the ministry as the DPP had suggested, or be a department under the ministry.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said yesterday that passage of the statute was a symbolic rather than a substantial move to address corruption issues.
“The function of the anti--corruption administration will overlap with that of prosecutors’ and the ministry’s Investigation Bureau,” Gao said.
Saying that setting up an anti-corruption administration under the ministry was like using “Tiger Balm” — trade name for a herbal ointment — to treat a mosquito bite medicine, Gao said what President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) wanted was to “relieve the itching,” rather than eradicate corruption.
DPP lawmakers also expressed concern that an anti-corruption administration under the ministry could become another dong chang (東廠) — a secret police setup run by eunuchs during the Ming Dynasty — used by the powerful to suppress dissidents.
As the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) holds an overwhelming majority in the legislature, the DPP failed to push its version of the law in an article-by-article vote.
Holding placards that read “anti-corruption” on the legislative floor yesterday, KMT lawmakers hailed the enactment, saying it would help create a clean government.
The legislature approved a resolution attached to the statute capping the administration’s number of staff at 240 to prevent an unnecessary expansion of the size of the administration.
At a separate setting yesterday, Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) said the new agency was expected to be set up in July or August.
Tseng said there would be no redundancy, as the new agency would focus on fighting corruption within government agencies, while the Investigation Bureau deals with economic crimes, such as corporate fraud, embezzlement and racketeering.
In addition to its headquarters, the agency will have branches in the cities of Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung, Tseng added.
Additional reporting by Rich Chang and CNA