President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is facing sharp criticism for his decision to appoint Chou Chih-jung (周志榮) as the first head of the Agency Against Corruption (AAC), an independent anti-corruption body established on Thursday.
Critics say Chou, a prosecutor, is actively involved in politics and is unfit to lead an agency aimed at deterring civil servants, including public officials, from engaging in corrupt activities.
Chou was widely rumored to have been involved in leaking to the press information about a probe into campaign contributions given to then-Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) during the 2008 presidential election, in a move that critics say may have affected the election outcome.
The allegations against Hsieh later turned out to be unfounded.
“His motive for doing this was clear,” DPP lawyer Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said at a press conference yesterday. “We are concerned that a prosecutor so heavily involved in political activities would turn the new agency into a political tool.”
There has also been dissatisfaction with the appointment of Yang Shih-chin (楊石金), the former head of Taipei City’s Department of Ethics, as deputy head of the AAC.
Yang was involved in the Taipei International Flora Expo scandal last year, when local DPP councilors accused organizers and the city government of overpaying contractors by as much as 30 times market prices. The scandal saw prosecutors raid the municipal government building and arrest one official.
Prosecutors had voiced public concerns at that time that the ethics department was covering up for other civic officials connected to the controversy.
“I don’t think anybody at the time could have imagined that Yang would instead be promoted to deputy head of the AAC,” Chou said, adding that the former director-general also had a dismal record in processing public complaints.
Information compiled by the DPP shows that 481 public complaints had been given to the Taipei City Ethics Department since February 2007, but only nine were pursued in court, leading to a “efficiency rate of only 1.8 percent,” DPP spokesperson Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said.
Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) yesterday said the allegations so far have not been found to be true. Chen welcomed Hsu to provide the ministry with whatever information he has.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY YANG KUO-WEN
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