Tue, Aug 23, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Diplomatic office audits to be ‘enhanced’

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

In the face of recent alleged scandals involving overseas representative offices, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) yesterday said the ministry intended to enhance inspections.

While details to implement oversight of the embassies and missions are still being formulated, Yang said it would be different from the inspection team system used by the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

Under the DPP administration, the oversight of diplomatic missions abroad was conducted by “laypeople” who did not have specialized knowledge of the subjects they audited, and thus the inspection was “not perfect,” Yang said.

The idea came in the wake of a series of allegations against former representative to Fiji Victor Chin (秦日新), who is on suspension and is under judicial investigation, ranging from misuse of public funds to having an affair with an employee of the Japanese embassy.

Then-minister of foreign affairs Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) established the inspection team system under the Research and Planning Board in 2002, but the system was abolished after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) came to power in 2008.

Asked whether his idea to enhance inspections of overseas diplomatic staff was of the same nature as that adopted by the DPP, Yang said no.

Yang said the ministry would have people with professional knowledge of North America inspect representative offices in that area, adding it was not a reinstatement of the previous system.

Commenting on the proposal, Maysing Yang (楊黃美幸), who was involved in the inspection team system as director of the Research and Planning Board, said she did not approve.

“The most important element of inspections is that it has to be exerted by impartial parties. It’s very simple. If the head of a company finds its financial statement problematic, would he have its accountants audit the books?” she said.

Maysing Yang said it was disappointing that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would go against the grain in designing an inspection system.

“New Zealand once commissioned an Australian agency to inspect its diplomatic staff abroad. In Japan, professors and prosecutors are sometimes invited to join inspections. In the US, diplomats with more than 10 years of service in a country are not allowed to attend inspections of that particular area. All these are to ensure objectivity and independence of inspection,” she said.

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