Fri, Aug 26, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Customs official is ‘lotus growing out of the mud’

Staff Writer, with CNA

A twentysomething fresh face in the Liudu branch of the Keelung Customs Office might have been the only clean customs inspector in the office, while his senior colleagues have been detained on corruption charges.

The young man, identified only by his surname, Chang (張), was described by Chinese-language media as “a lotus growing out of the mud,” who told customs brokers he would not take their money or favors and that they had to apply for customs clearance according to the book.

Local media said Chang, who was assigned to the Liudu branch office last year, was called “the odd man out” by his colleagues because he refused to cooperate in the traditional practice of “going easy” on customs clearance applications in exchange for cash or other rewards, including banquets and the use of prostitutes.

Prosecution sources said investigators found that a customs broker surnamed Lai (賴) had been colluding with Liudu branch officials and that Chang was the only inspector Lai “dared not” get in touch with.

Lin Tung-ying, Chang’s colleague who had been in constant contact with Lai, confessed to helping other inspectors take bribes from Lai, prosecutors said. Lin also described Chang as an “odd man out,” who he could not convince to “work with the rest of us,” they said.

Prosecutors said that among the inspectors at the Liudu branch office, only Chang had not been bought, so brokers and importers would purposely avoid presenting their applications when Chang was on duty.

A customs broker by the surname of Chen (陳) said Chang distinguishes clearly between “public” and “private” business.

“He just asked us [brokers] to do our business according to the law,” Chen said.

A manager of a customs broker service said that when Chang discovered that some documents for one of his cases were incomplete, he refused to let the container pass customs, demanding that all the documents be presented before he would let the cargo go through.

Customs officials said some of their younger colleagues have better degrees and a higher degree of autonomy, and they use stricter standards when checking customs clearance applications.

“They demonstrate a style that is different to that of the older generation, probably because they don’t want to get caught and jailed because they took bribes,” an official said.

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