Tue, Mar 19, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan not ruled by law, Ko tells students in US

COOKING THE BOOKS?Of the localities on the verge of bankruptcy, Changhua County is likely ‘to go first,’ Ko said, with its accounts likely manipulated for years

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, right, and Taipei City Government spokesman Liu Yi-ting, second right, attend a breakfast meeting yesterday with Columbia University professor of political science Andrew Nathan, left, as part of Ko’s nine-day “learning trip” to the US.

Photo: CNA

The political scene in Taiwan shows that the nation is not governed by the law, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said in New York on Sunday, adding that the situation has left Changhua County and Kaohsiung on the verge of bankruptcy.

On the second day of Ko’s visit to the US, he attended an interactive talk of almost two hours with Taiwanese students in New York, during which he touched upon topics including a culture of honesty and respect for the law, and the importance of working hard and being patient.

The US’ emphasis on honesty was manifested during the Watergate political scandal that led to the resignation of then-US president Richard Nixon, Ko said in his 30-minute speech.

However, “if people had to resign for lying, there would be no more politicians in Taipei,” he said.

“The law is meant for people to obey, not for people to refer to, but Taiwan has never been a country governed according to the rule of law,” he said. “We have never been a country of honesty.”

People who have violated the law often speak boldly and with great confidence, as if they think that because they have ignored the law for so long, their actions are normal and accepted, Ko said.

Ko “definitely does not want to leave a debt to future generations,” he said, adding that the near-bankruptcy of the Miaoli County Government demonstrates that Taiwan is not yet honest or governed by the rule of law.

The county government, county council, Ministry of Finance, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics and Control Yuan all have their monitoring and financial policies, but the county government still landed itself in trouble, and it appears that its accounts have been manipulated for more than a decade, he said.

“Several cities and counties are facing bankruptcy,” Ko said. “The most likely to go first is Changhua County, because it is about to reach its debt ceiling, and Kaohsiung is in a similar situation.”

Many policies take time to produce results, but Taiwanese naively wish to see clear changes within two or three years, he said.

Authorities might be making slow, but steady progress, so people should not delude themselves and insist on swift change, he said.

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