Citizen’s Congress Watch (CCW) yesterday filed a complaint with the Control Yuan accusing the Legislative Yuan of dereliction of duty and calling for the impeachment of Legislative Yuan Secretary-General Lin Hsi-shan (林錫山).
Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華), a member of the legislative watchdog, and Chang Hung-lin (張宏林), its executive director, petitioned the Control Yuan to launch an investigation into the amendment of the Accounting Act (會計法), saying it may have been subject to political bartering and closed-room deals.
The Amendments to Section 1, Article 99 of the Accounting Act was supposed to exempt research grants given by the government to professors and the special allowances of elected officials from being audited.
However, the omission of the word “teaching [faculty]” in the approved legislation left professors vulnerable to prosecution, while allowing convicted officials, such as former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), to be exonerated from charges of misuse of public funds.
Yen has been in jail since Feb. 19 after he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for using nearly NT$20 million (US$668,500) in taxpayer money to visit hostess bars, but will be released once the amendments are promulgated.
Public outrage over the incident prompted calls for a review of the amendments, which were subsequently repealed by a unanimous vote of 110 to zero in the Legislative Yuan on Thursday in an extra two-week legislative session.
CCW said the legislature had hastily passed the amendments on the last day of the regular legislative session, sparking a nationwide furor and highlighting the problem of secretive party caucus negotiations in the legislature.
The Act Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power (立法院職權行使法) stipulates that “any consultation on legislative acts should be witnessed by the legislature’s secretary-general, with audio and video recordings and the results of the consultation should be released to the press,” Ku said.
However, records on recent legislative meetings to amend the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) and slash year-end bonuses for civil servants, military, and educational personnel have not been publicized, Ku said.
The food sanitation act was amended following the discovery of maleic acid, a byproduct that indicates the use of industrial starch, in several products on May 16 following a tip-off.
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration also pushed through a series of cuts to the pensions of civil servants, military personnel and public school teachers initiated by the previous Cabinet under former premier Sean Chen (陳?) amid concern that they would drain national coffers.
Only two categories of public servants — those receiving a monthly pension of less than NT$20,000 and the families of military personnel who died or were injured in the line of duty — would be entitled to the bonus.
The CCW called on the Control Yuan to impeach Lin for dereliction of duty and to demand that the legislature follow the Act Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power and publicize the content of consultation meetings.
Making bipartisan consultations on controversial acts more transparent would prevent a recurrence of legislation being used as a tool for political bartering, the group said.