A suggestion by the Kaohsiung Education Bureau that an elementary-school personnel director write a 3,000-word report in his off hours for criticizing Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) was likely illegal, Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said yesterday.
“Mayor Han resorts to bombast 24-7. He has made the Kaohsiung City Government look like it is only good for hot air,” the director said last month at an event in support of a drive launched by WeCare Kaohsiung to recall Han, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate.
Footage of the event showed the director wearing a mask and identifying himself as a “civil servant.”
The bureau later punished the director by ordering him to write the 3,000-word report to reflect on his behavior. The directive is pending the approval of the bureau’s performance review committee.
While inspecting construction work at the city’s Neiweibei Ecological Park (內惟埤文化園區), Chen was asked by reporters whether he had asked a civil servant to write a report reflecting on their actions when he was acting mayor of Kaohsiung in 2005.
Chen said that he did not remember having ever done that.
The Civil Service Administrative Neutrality Act (公務人員行政中立法) prohibits a civil servant from forcing another civil servant whose political leanings are different to make a political statement, he said.
He read about the incident in the news, Chen said, adding that the bureau’s action was likely illegal.
It is a basic principle to uphold civil servants’ dignity when enforcing the law and pushing policies, he said.
Asked if he would attend a Dec. 21 parade organized by WeCare Kaohsiung, Chen did not give a straight answer, but urged Han to concentrate more on honoring his mayoral campaign promises to ease residents’ discontent.
The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Kaohsiung City Council caucus on Thursday held a news conference to decry the bureau’s punishment, saying that it hearkens back to the nation’s Martial Law era.
The punishment reflected Han’s mindset that “whoever obeys me shall thrive; whoever opposes me shall perish,” DPP Kaohsiung City Councilor Huang Wen-yi (黃文益) said.
The bureau later that day said in a statement that it recommended punishing the director because, as a civil servant and a member of Han’s administration, he had made an “unfounded accusation” without understanding the city government’s policies.
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