Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) on Wednesday called for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to begin work toward the abolition of the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan.
There has been much controversy surrounding the Control Yuan in the past few weeks, as President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) candidates for posts have either declined their nominations or were criticized by the KMT.
The controversy highlights one of the main problems of the Control Yuan: It is an investigatory agency that monitors the government, but its members are nominated by the head of the government.
Due to this structure, it was debilitated from 2005 to 2008, when the KMT — which then held a majority in the Legislative Yuan — refused to ratify candidates chosen by then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Presidents from the pan-blue camp tend to nominate pan-blue candidates to head the Control Yuan, and pan-green presidents tend to nominate pan-green candidates, which arguably erodes the efficacy of the government branch.
Even when Tsai nominated KMT member and former Taitung County commissioner Justin Huang (黃健庭) as a Control Yuan member on Saturday last week, the KMT criticized the move.
It also criticized the nomination of DPP member and former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) as Control Yuan president, although the DPP suggested Chen for the chair of the Control Yuan’s National Human Rights Commission, given her experience as a political prisoner after the Kaohsiung Incident.
Another problem is the branch’s potential for disrupting the balance between the three core branches of government, judicial, legislative and executive.
In an editorial, law student Huang Yu-zhe (黃于哲) wrote that as the Control Yuan in practice functions as part of the legislature, and as members can impeach judges, the branch could disrupt judicial independence (“Control Yuan must respect judges,” Dec. 28, 2019, page 8).
Although the Control Yuan can be a corrective force within the government, as seen in the impeachment of officials found guilty of corruption, some of its functions overlap with those of other institutions, and it must be decoupled from the government that it monitors so that it can best serve its purpose.
In the US, the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office is chosen by the US president from three candidates brought forward by an eight-member bipartisan and bicameral commission of congressional leaders. This adds an extra layer to the selection process. Taiwan could go further and have candidates chosen by a committee whose members have no political affiliation.
The Control Yuan should be reformed.
First, it should not be a yuan-level agency, but instead should be an independent committee akin to the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee.
Second, the scope of its responsibilities should be reduced. For example, there is no need for the Control Yuan to investigate human rights cases when there are already several bodies for this purpose, such as the Taiwan Association for Human Rights.
It also does not need sub-committees such as those for domestic and ethnic affairs, foreign and overseas Chinese affairs, national defense and intelligence affairs, finance and economic affairs, among others, which either have no place in a modern context or whose functions are served elsewhere.
There is also no need at all for an Examination Yuan, given that the Control Yuan — in its current form or in a yet-to-be-determined form — already supervises civil service exams.
There should be an agency that investigates corruption, but it needs to be smaller in scope and decoupled from the government.
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