The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering reinstating the oversight system established under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government following recent scandals involving officials at representative offices, ministry officials said yesterday.
Allegations implicating former representative to Fiji Victor Chin (秦日新), who is suspected of misusing public funds and other irregularities, as well as accusations made by a Fijian female employee about an alleged sexual assault by one of Chin’s aides, Leon Liu (劉壽軒), rocked the representative office in Fiji last month, forcing the ministry to intervene to contain the matter.
Diplomatic officials said the recent scandals cast a cloud over the ministry and prompted Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) to raise the question of reinstating inspections at representative offices at a recent meeting.
Yang’s proposal was immediately rejected by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡), who said the inspection teams under the DPP administration performed poorly because they did not understand the local political situation at the representative offices.
Then-minister of foreign affairs Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) established the inspection teams under the ministry’s Research and Planning Board in 2002.
The inspection teams regularly visited the nation’s overseas representative offices to evaluate the performance and behavior of officials.
Their jurisdiction included affairs related to the promotion of representative offices, consular affairs, compatriot affairs, executive management, resource management and auditing the representative offices’ finances and books.
Former ministry officials called on the ministry last month to reinstate the inspection system, saying that other developed countries such as the US, the UK and South Korea performed similar inspections of their overseas personnel.
The system caused discontent among some diplomatic staff, and it was abolished when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came into office in 2008.
After officials familiar with the mechanism explained its operations, Shen agreed that reinstating inspections of representative offices could be effective, but said that the term “inspection teams” should be avoided.
DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) criticized the Ma administration over the matter, saying abolishing the inspections had directly led to scandals, turning Taiwan into a laughingstock on the international stage.
“I would be very glad to see the review system revived,” Tsai said.
Ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) confirmed that the ministry was discussing how to reinforce oversight using current systems, adding that reinstating the “inspection teams” was still under discussion.
TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER