Mortuary services workers in Taipei fired for corruption

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - Page 4

The Taipei City Government’s Department of Civil Affairs fired 12 contract workers at the Taipei Mortuary Services Office yesterday for allegedly taking money in red envelopes from families of the dead. The department vowed to eliminate the “bad practice” in the funeral industry.

The Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption launched a probe last month into the 12 contract workers — who were responsible for embalming and placing the bodies into coffins — over allegations that they had been accepting red envelopes containing NT$1,000 for each body they handled.

Department of Civil Affairs Commissioner Huang Lu Ching-ju (黃呂錦茹) yesterday led top officials at the office to apologize for the corruption.

“It is a tradition for families of the dead to give red envelopes to mortuary service workers to express their gratitude, but we banned workers from taking red envelopes as we want to eliminate this bad practice,” she said.

While the workers are still under investigation, Huang Lu said the city’s Ethics Office has found evidence of the corruption and the department decided to terminate the workers’ contracts to uphold its reputation.

The department also gave a demerit to Mortuary Services Office director Wu Kun-hong (吳坤宏) and took disciplinary actions against six other officials for poor supervision of staff.

Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors yesterday criticized the department for indulging corruption, urging it to examine the annual NT$42 million bonus listed for the Mortuary Services Office.

“Civil servants take bonuses in one hand and accept money in red envelopes with the other. How does that make people feel?” the city councilors said as they protested at Taipei City Hall.

Huang Lu said the bonus is given to funeral services workers as a reward for their hard work, while insisting that the department would not tolerate workers taking any form of gift.