Control Yuan cases continue to pile up as legislature stalls

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Sat, Feb 24, 2007 - Page 2

More than 24,000 cases have piled up at the office of the Control Yuan, which has not been operating since Feb. 1, 2005 because of the KMT-controlled legislature's refusal to endorse President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) nominees for seats in the Taiwan's top watchdog body.

Control Yuan administrative staffers said that 40,000-plus cases were filed between February 2005 and last month, including petitions from citizens, public functionaries' assets disclosure reports and cases involving conflicts of interest and political contributions.

Some of the cases have been addressed in accordance with a package of measures approved by former Control Yuan president Fredrick Chien (錢復), but a backlog of more than 24,000 cases remains because they can only be investigated by Control Yuan members.

Over the past two years, a Control Yuan administrator said, a spate of high-profile scandals and irregularities have caused widespread concern about official corruption and a deterioration of business ethics.

Those cases include sales of pork products from sick and dead hogs, illegal money lending, leaks of confidential personnel data in the military, controversies surrounding the Kaohsiung mass rapid transit construction project, insider trading, prosecutorial coverup of drug trafficking and ethical problems involving judicial personnel.

With no Control Yuan members to probe whether government officials should be held responsible for dereliction of duty or legal violations, the Control Yuan administrator said, trust in the government has been affected.

Moreover, the official said, 67 cases involving censure or punishment of individual government employees will remain unheard until Control Yuan members are appointed.

"Any delay in finalizing probes into those cases is unfair to all those involved," he added.

The absence of Control Yuan members has had the more serious result of preventing action on suspected infractions in assets disclosure reports by public office holders and irregularities in political donations, the official said.

The inaction is like offering "a legal break" to those who violate various "sunshine laws" designed to promote clean politics, he said.

The official also lamented the large backlog of petitions filed by individual citizens over alleged infringements of human rights or personal property rights.

Noting that the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) is one of the few international organizations that Taiwan has been admitted to under its official title -- the Republic of China, the official said that Taiwan has missed three IOI meetings over the past two years because of the absence of Control Yuan members.

The official said that China has repeatedly tried, although in vain, to have Taiwan expelled from the organization.

Chen has agreed to draw up a new list of nominees for the Control Yuan seats and has asked various political parties to recommend qualified candidates.

Nevertheless, the Chinese Nationalist Party and the People First Party have given only a lukewarm response to Chen's call.

With no signs of reconciliation between the ruling and opposition parties in sight, it remains unclear when the Control Yuan will resume normal operations.