Taiwan mulls revision of anti-corruption law

Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - Taiwan Premier Sean Chen yesterday told lawmakers that the government is far from making a decision on anti-corruption law revisions to exempt some officials from being required to declare their assets.

Chen made the remarks when asked to confirm whether the government is looking at revising the so-called "Sunshine Act" to facilitate the recruitment of new Cabinet ministers.

The premier stressed the Cabinet members certainly must declare their assets, but government leaders from the Presidential Office, Cabinet and Legislature have indeed discussed the possibility of giving exemptions to government representatives sitting on the boards of private companies.

The asset declaration requirements have deterred many business leaders from accepting positions as representatives concerning government investments in private firms, Chen said during a question-and-answer session at the Legislature.

It is unreasonable to require these representatives to declare their personal wealth, as they only receive nominal payments from the companies where they and other directors and supervisors exercise control collectively, the premier said.

But Chen emphasised that the idea is "completely immature," and it remains on the stage of "opinion exchanging" only.

It was apparent that Chen discussed the issue with President Ma Ying-jeou and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng during their weekly meeting earlier this week.

Legislator Chan Kai-chen asked the premier whether the law would adopt "selective" measures in order to accommodate specific people or scenarios. Chen ruled out such a possibility, stressing that discussion would focus on whether the law would be feasible.

Currently all ranking officials, including the president, premier, ministers and lawmakers, must declare their assets every year under the Sunshine Act - a law designed to better monitor their personal wealth to prevent corruption.

But Legislative Speaker Wang disclosed Tuesday that during his weekly meeting with Ma and Chen they had discussed how the government could attract more capable people to join its ranks. Wang said they touched on the possibility of revising the asset declaration law.

Lawmakers from the ruling Kuomintang, or KMT, mostly agreed changing the Sunshine Act would be a move in the right direction, according to the United Evening News.

KMT Legislator Li Kui-min said that for some people, making public the information of their assets will be a major concern if they join the government.

The law change may still require them to provide such information to the authorities but it will not be made available to the public under normal circumstances, Li was cited by the paper as saying.

KMT Legislator Wang Hui-mei said the Sunshine Act is meant to prevent corruption, but with the nation in economic distress, extraordinary measures should be taken to let the government recruit talent from the private sector.

But their counterparts from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) disagreed. Legislator Pan Meng-an said the KMT might as well "outsource" the entire government operation to the private sector.

If the KMT dares to launch a bill to revise the law in that direction, the DPP will fight against it, Pan added.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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