Thu, Sep 20, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Prizes offered in bid to find anti-graft drive a mascot

By Lee Hsin-hung, Tseng Te-feng and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Some mascots are displayed at the New Taipei City Government’s Civil Service Ethics Office on Tuesday, calling on the public to choose their favorite mascot for the promotion of clean government.

Photo: Lee Hsin-hung, Taipei Times

Politicians have ridiculed efforts by the New Taipei City (新北市) Government to curb bribery and corruption through a contest to select an “anti-corruption mascot,” calling the plan “naive” and “unrealistic,”

During an event launch on Tuesday, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) said the “anti-corruption campaign” would use education to encourage residents to support good ethics throughout the civil service.

With prizes on offer, people are being encouraged to vote for one of five choices for the “anti-corruption mascot,” including representations of the sun, a sunflower, a bee, a woodpecker and a bamboo stalk.

Agency Against Corruption Deputy Director-General Chang Hung-mou (張宏謀) was on hand to endorse the drive.

“Officials in the Department of Government Ethics must reach out to the people to encourage the concept of anti-corruption as an aspect of culture,” Chang said.

However, the campaign and contest were derided by a number of politicians, some of whom called the plan “naive” and “unrealistic.”

Some councilors said this was simply another quick-fix scheme of “governing through sloganeering,” adding that concrete efforts were needed to combat pervasive bribery and corrupt practices.

“People are angry at the corruption problem because officials protect each other and reported cases often don’t result in any action. Government ethics offices should enhance their investigative capabilities and prosecute a few cases so that people sit up and take notice,” said Liao Yu-teh (廖裕德), an independent New Taipei City councilor.

“That would be the best way to publicize the anti-corruption campaign and would be more effective than asking the public to vote for an anti-corruption mascot,” Liao said.

“We cannot instil good ethics by simply coming up with more slogans. Government offices must simplify the procedures and make it easier for the public to deal with bureaucracy,” said Chou Sheng-kao (周勝考), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General for the New Taipei City Council.

“Civil servants must not deliberately create difficulties so the public thinks it needs to give bribes in order to get things done,” Chou said.

Ho Su-feng (何淑峰), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) whip at the New Taipei City Council, said: “This kind of activity to promote anti-corruption has no effect whatsoever. A public vote to choose a mascot is just a formality.”

For civil servants to develop good ethics, the government must implement reform from within, Ho said, adding that choosing a mascot was nothing more than a “feel good” measure to turn the public into cheerleaders for the authorities.

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