Lawmakers have mixed reactions to an idea advocated by both Premier Sean Chen and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) that exemptions be made to rules governing the declaration of property by officials to facilitate the recruitment of professionals in the public sector.
The idea was floated at a meeting chaired by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Monday, at which both Chen and Wang voiced their support for reviewing the system under the Act on Property Declaration by Public Servants (公職人員財產申報法).
Touted part of the so-called “sunshine legislation” to bring transparency and cleanness to politics, the act required 13 categories of people on government payrolls to report their assets to the Control Yuan and to declare properties within three months of their inauguration and to annually declare their property ownership.
It was estimated that about 15,000 public servants became subject to the system after the 2007 amendment that doubled the number of civil servants covered by the law. The data compiled by the Control Yuan is open to the public.
Chen proposed that people appointed by the government to a board of directors or a board of supervisors at a bank, enterprise, or an institution be exempted from the disclosure requirement.
He said property declarations by those people should be inaccessible, except when necessary.
Wang said the measure should be applied to Cabinet members and said that the property declaration requirement has limited the involvement of professional managerial talent from engaging in public sector jobs.
Lawmakers were divided on the issue.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) was hesitant to support the idea because he said that it would be a highly controversial issue to decide who is subject to mandatory disclosure and who is not.
People First Party caucus whip Thomas Lee (李桐豪) praised the idea and said the system has blocked private sector talent from the public realm. Lee said that he does not view the measure as being an anti-corruption mechanism.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Hsu Chun-hsin (許忠信), on the other hand, said that he disagreed with the idea, saying that public servants representing public shares in a bank, an enterprise, or an institution have to face public scrutiny.
“They are also in a position whereby they have more access to information than ordinary individuals, as do Cabinet members, to avail of benefits for themselves,” Hsu said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that the proposal made by Chen and Wang was “a backward step” for democracy and that it ran counter to the pledge outlined by Ma to promote clean governance.