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(Aug 11, 2010) Taiwan's President, Ma Ying-jeou, announced on July 20, 2010, that a new agency devoted to combating government corruption would be established under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). He indicated that it would not be modeled after Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption or Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, both of which report to the head of government. Because of Taiwan's civil law-based legal system, Ma stated, "prosecutors are the major representatives of the country's investigation and prosecution," and so anti-corruption bodies will be subordinate to the MOJ. (Michelle Lu, President Ma Announces New Anti-Corruption Agency, TAIWAN TODAY (July 21, 2010), http://taiwantoday.tw/ct.asp?xItem=111548&ctNode=452&mp=9.)

The proposed agency will initially have a staff of 200 officials drawn from ethics departments of government agencies, the Investigation Bureau, and the police. An MOJ bill on the new agency is to be submitted to the legislature in August. The Ministry hopes that the body will be operational in 2012. Announcement of the agency's formation comes in the wake of recent scandals involving public officials, including the arrests, in connection with bribery charges, of three Taiwan High Court judges and a prosecutor. This led to the resignation on July 18 of Lai In-jaw, President of the Judicial Yuan (Taiwan's highest judicial organ). (Id.)

Ma defended his administration against the criticism that the new body would overlap with current government anti-corruption units, most notably the Central Anti-Corruption Committee (CACC) under the Executive Yuan (Cabinet). He contends there is "a global trend, as indicated in the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to establish one or several exclusive watchdog agencies" charged with the various aspects of anti-corruption efforts. (Id.) Nevertheless, C.V. Chen, a prominent lawyer in Taiwan, urged the government to clearly demarcate the newly proposed agency from the CACC in terms of their duties and functions and to clearly define the two bodies' relationship. Chen stated that he "had expected that the new anti-corruption agency would be at a higher level," but because it is not, clear lines of distinction from the CACC are necessary. (Government Urged to Demarcate Between Anti-Corruption Units, FOCUS TAIWAN (July 30, 2010), http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Det
ail.aspx?ID=201007300016&Type=aIPL
.)

In the meantime, the MOJ has been tasked with reviewing the CACC's functions and duties and adopting measures to link them to the new agency, with a view towards synergy of their operations. The Minister of Justice has also been instructed to take steps to facilitate collaboration between the two organizations. (Id.; see also John R. Heilbrunn, Anti-Corruption Commissions Panacea or Real Medicine to Fight Corruption?, THE WORLD BANK INSTITUTE (2004), http://siteresources.worldbank.org/WBI/Resources/wbi37234Heilbrunn.pdf; Information Note: Independence of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Investigating Corruption Complaints Against the Head of State or Head of Government in Selected Places, Hong Kong Legislative Council Secretariat, IN11/07-08 (Apr. 14, 2008), http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr07-08/english/sec/library/0708in11-e.pdf.)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Government ethics and transparency More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Taiwan More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 08/11/2010