Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Steady Drip-drip of Scandals

The difficulties in promoting change in Taiwan are exemplified by the steady drip of scandals emanating from the ranks of DPP appointees. The latest round involves former Taisugar Chairman and current Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝). Taiwan News has the story:

Taiwan's top financial regulator was suspended from duty after being questioned for his alleged involvement in a number of corruption cases while serving as the head of the state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) decided to suspend Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝) after Kong was summoned as a defendant and then released on bail by the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office on Thursday over alleged corruption. Su had designated FSC Vice Chairman Lu Tung-ying to act on Su's behalf until after Kong's case is settled, according to a press release issued by the Government Information Office.

Kong is the first cabinet member to be suspended for alleged corruption, and he is the latest victim of a number of high-profile corruption scandals under the administration of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

"After investigators handling the case had interrogated Chairman Kong, they believed there was reason to suspect he had some involvement in this case," Lin said.

Investigators had also gathered evidence from unnamed contractors and spoken to other high-level Taiwan Sugar officials in recent days, Lin said, adding that Kong had been released on bail of NT$500,000.

Kong's office was involved in a scandal in October of last year, when one of the bureaucrats Kong apparently hired was hit by an insider trading scandal. DPP legislators wisely called for Kong's head at that point, but nobody listened:

Earlier yesterday, two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers requested the resignation of FSC Chairman Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝), because he had hired Lee.

DPP Legislator Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) called for Kong's immediate resignation, saying that he had made a bad decision in hiring Lee and had done a poor job overseeing Lee's performance.

Wang threatened to launch a signature drive to request Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) to fire Kong if Kong refused to take the initiative to step down.

DPP Legislator Charles Chiang (江昭儀) yesterday expressed the same opinion and asked both Kong and Lu to step down.

Chiang also questioned Lee's qualifications for his former job, alleging that he had acquired the position because of a "powerful individual."

The current assault on Kong was helped by none other than Chiu Yi, who should be serving time for his inciting a riot and leading an assault on a government building.

Independent lawmaker Chiu Yi (邱毅) supported this claim by unveiling that Wu and Kong visited the Korean resort island of Cheju-do together in October along with a businessman named Chen, whose application they are accused of approving too easily.

Kong countered the accusation by saying the trip had been personal and he had not accompanied Wu. He also pointed out that, at the time, he did not hold a public post and had not visited any casino.

Lawmaker Chiu challenged Kong's reply Wednesday by claiming Kong, Wu and Chen had all visited Cheju-do three years ago and were entertained extravagantly in an attempt to promote stock exchanges.

He suspected Cheju-do was a "paradise" where the ruling Democratic Progressive Party could launder money. He cited as another example the recent visit to the island of former Deputy Secretary General Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) and former vice chairman of Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp Chen Min-hsien -- two suspects involved in the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp scandal.

Meanwhile, the New Tide faction within the DPP convener Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said the date of Kong's trip did not correspond with Wu's. He also said Wu and Kong's trip was not controversial because Wu was the chairman of Taiwan Sugar Corporation at the time and Kong did not hold any public office. Therefore, they could not be involved in any kind of scandal.

One of the fascinating aspects of these affairs is the way that allegations are made but no evidence is brought forward. Note how the DPPers respond to Chiu Yi, but none asks him for evidence demonstrating that the men traveled together illegally. Until accusers are silenced with requests for credible evidence, the steady stream of attacks, most of which are nonsense, will continue.

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