The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday defended its rejection of a request by Nantou County Commissioner Lee Chao-ching (李朝卿), who is facing corruption charges, to be reinstated in his post.
Lee has questioned the ministry’s decision, saying it was an assumption of guilt even before the judiciary has rendered a verdict.
Lee, taken into custody on Nov. 30 last year on suspicion of taking bribes on public projects, was released on NT$20 million (US$668,340) bail on March 26, after prosecutors indicted him on corruption charges. He applied for reinstatement the following day, citing the Local Government Act (地方制度法), which he said allows indicted officials to resume their duties pending a verdict.
The ministry rejected his request on Monday, pending an investigation by the Control Yuan.
Liu Wen-shih (劉文仕), executive secretary of the ministry’s Legal Affairs Committee, said that the ministry initially planned to approve Lee’s application to resume office based on the Local Government Act.
“However, after learning more details about Lee’s indictment, we decided, after careful consideration, to continue his suspension while referring him to the Control Yuan, based on the Public Functionaries Discipline Act (公務人員懲戒法),” he said.
“We made the decision because Lee’s alleged involvement in the corruption cases is too deep and complicated. We also found that many public servants at the county government have testified against Lee, and we are concerned about what might happen to these public servants and how Lee might interfere with the investigation if he were to resume office,” Lee said.
Saying it was not an easy decision to make because the head of a local government is elected by voters, Liu said: “We would not apply the Public Functionaries Discipline Act unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
Expressing regret over the ministry’s decision, Lee said at a press conference in Nantou County that he would cooperate with the Control Yuan’s investigation and defend his innocence in court