Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Special Funds Fun

The Special Funds issue will be smacking the DPP soon, as investigations have opened into major DPP figures:

Meanwhile, the cases involving the four DPP aspirants for the next presidency -- Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) -- were all assigned to three other prosecutors -- Hou Kuan-jen (侯寬仁), Shen Ming-lun (沈明倫) and Chou Shih-yu (周士榆).

Hou's team will also handle a similar case involving another DPP bigwig -- National Security Council Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山).

Hou was the key figure behind the indictment of former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) over his alleged misuse of the discretionary special allowance fund during his mayoral term between 1998 and last year.

The article does not mention that Hou is Ma Ying-jeou's friend and is strongly pro-Blue. The special funds, readers may recall, are funds from the government given directly to more than 6,500 public officials on the island, half of which they can use but need not submit receipts for. Abuse is widespread, and many public officials treat them as informal salary and keep the funds for themselves, as Ma Ying-jeou did. Ma's argument is that since everyone violates the law, he is not guilty. I have a certain sympathy with this argument.

Meawhile the Taipei Times also reports on the Grand Justices and their increasing wealth. One part of the article noted:
The report shows that Judicial Yuan President Weng Yueh-sheng (翁岳生), who concurrently serves as a grand justice, ranks among the three wealthiest grand justices in terms of family assets. Weng's bank deposits increased NT$3.28 million (US$99,000) to reach NT$19.25 million at the end of last year.

He was one of the senior government officials who came under fire last year over alleged misuse of special allowance funds set aside for discretionary use. The asset disclosure report shows that Weng continued to deposit his special allowance fund into his bank account last year.

A Grand Justice of the Supreme Court, after being told he shouldn't be downloading government funds directly to his account and keeping them, nevertheless continues to do it. The culture of impunity.....It's really, really time for an end to this system, and an amnesty for all public officials who benefited by it.


Anonymous said...

You can never end corruption because it is part of the "Asian values" system.

Michael Turton said...

But you can build civic culture so that corruption becomes something that all see as wrong, and so that many commit to values that are positiev for the whole society, like in many western countries. There is less corruption, and greater chance of getting caught.

Takes time though.


irwinc said...

I may be speaking out of ignorance but if the local media and the political figures all point figures at each other as being on the take on the "special funds", why doesn't someone introduce a bill to end the funny money business? I mean isn't that an educated civic minded electroal would expect? So far I haven't seen any lawmaker from any of the 4 main parties to introduce such a bill. Politics in Taiwan always seems to be a zero-sum game. I guess this is not going to change until a more accountable election/representative system is introduced (i.e. 1 district 1 rep).