Monday, February 4, 2008

The KMT must affirm its Integrity by passing the Sunshine Law

The KMT must affirm its Integrity by passing the Sunshine Law
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 4, 2008

In the wake of the legislative elections, prosecutors have swiftly indicted a dozen or so former and current legislators for taking bribes in Chinese medicine and dentistry related cases. Both Blue and Green camp legislators were involved. The scope of the offenses was shocking. A new legislature is about to take office, but Sunshine Laws have yet to be passed. Under such circumstances, how can we expect the public to trust the legislature? How can we ensure the integrity of the new legislature?

The KMT won a supermajority in the Legislative Yuan. Some people think that will turn it into a monster. It isn't only outsiders who harbor such fears. Even the KMT Central Committee lacks confidence in its own party caucus. As a result, the party caucus is actually considering adjourning until after the presidential election, to avoid making any unintentional blunders. But if the KMT lacks confidence in its ability to control its own party caucus, to ensure that it promotes KMT policy, how will it control it over the next four years? Moreover, the KMT may well win the presidential election in March. When it comes time to coordinate between the presidential office and the legislature, how will it maintain even minimum standards for the character and conduct of its officials and legislators?

The KMT has two priorities: First, the swift passage of Sunshine Laws to rein in KMT legislators and KMT officials. Second, a public declaration that the KMT hopes prosecutors and the judiciary will investigate the administration and the legislature full force. That the KMT will not tolerate or abet corruption, even among its own members.

Speaking of Sunshine Laws, each party has its own name for such laws. Their content differs, and each party has its own political calculations. It will not be easy to integrate them into a single, unified package. The KMT has certain advantages. For the good of society, it should focus on the greatest common denominator and give that its highest priority. This includes political contributions, lobbying laws, and amending the Public Functionary Assets Disclosure Law. The most serious forms of political corruption will be regulated by these three laws. If these three bills pass, then the Sunshine Laws will finally have seen the light of day.

First let's talk about political contribution laws. That corporations or various interest groups secretly donate huge sums to political parties or to certain political figures, is a fact known to all. Political parties or political figures repay such contributions by cooperating on policy matters, and by dispensing certain kinds of jobs. Corrupt exchanges of power for money or money for power can easily become the legislative norm. The law stipulates that prosecutors have the authority to investigate such crimes. Political figures and political parties must account for the source of their income. Otherwise they will be presumed guilty. Only such standards meet the people's expectations.

Now let's talk about lobbying laws. The Chinese medicine scandal and other related scandals illustrate the urgent need for such laws. If lobbying laws cannot be normalized and made transparent, if money cannot be kept out of the equation, corrupt transactions will distort the content of legislation. Once the laws have been subjected to such distortions, the negative impact will be widespread and long-term. Public perception will be negative. National confidence and community trust will be undermined.

As for amending the Public Functionary Assets Disclosure Law, little more needs to be said. We must make the content more specific. False declarations or refusals to declare one's assets must be severely punished. Otherwise the law is merely a non-binding piece of paper. Chen Shui-bian is an obvious example. He refused to declare large quantities of expensive jewelry and designer watches. Despite the controversy, he refused to make any declaration. He didn't give a damn about punishments for violating reporting requirements. Toothless laws cannot lead to political reform. Strengthening such laws is essential.

The rationale and necessity for Sunshine Laws and related laws, such as the Political Party Law, the Presidential and Civil Service Personnel Election and Recall Amdendment, the Organic Law for the Ministry of Justice Independent Commission Against Corruption, should be explained to the public in greater detail. For example, would the functions of an Independent Commission Against Corruption overlap the functions of the Bureau of Investigation? Can the Bureau of Investigation shake off political control? Discretion is necessary. The problem in the past was not the lack of law enforcement authorities, but the attitude of law enforcement officials. They lacked objectivity and resolve. Instead of creating redundancy, it would be better to ensure that law enforcement authorities are freed from political interference, and free to impartially enforce the law.

The Sunshine Laws have repeatedly run aground. The problem is a lack of determination and discipline on the part of legislators and political leaders. The KMT now has a supermajority in the legislature. If it fails to promptly sponsor a Sunshine Law, and push for its adoption and implementation, how will it explain its failure to the people?

2008.02.04 03:13 am


國 民黨取得立法院絕對多數席次,有人認為將成「怪獸」。不僅外界有此疑慮,甚至連國民黨中央似亦對黨團沒有信心,於是,一度竟想在總統選舉前休會,以免「凸 槌」。但倘若國民黨現在就沒有自信控制得住黨籍立委,推動國民黨的政策,則未來四年又如何控制得住?何況,國民黨亦可能在三月贏得總統大選,屆時「府院合 體」,更將如何維持官員及議員的基本品操?


論 及陽光法案,目前各黨派提出的法案名稱眾多,內容歧異,甚至各有政治盤算,實難一次整套完成。國民黨以其優勢,應挑出社會有共識的部分,優先強力主導通 過。這應包括:政治獻金法、遊說法、公職人員財產申報法(修正案)。因為,政壇最嚴重的貪腐問題,皆在此三法案所規範的範圍內;這三個法案通過,陽光體制 即可稱已經奠基。

先談政治獻金法。企業財團或各種利益團體,暗中對政黨或特定政治人物的巨額捐獻,可謂眾所周知的事實;而政黨或政治人物 即回報以政策的配合、特定職位的分配等等,形成「以權換錢、以錢換權」的貪腐交易。如經立法規範,並明定對違法犯行的刑責,司法調查單位即有權展開偵辦, 政治人物和政黨亦須交代金錢來源,否則即受有罪推定,這必定符合民眾的期望。

再論遊說法,中醫藥相關法案收賄的醜聞,正足以說明此一法律 的急迫性。如若不能讓遊說正常化、透明化,禁止金錢介入,則這種藉歪曲法案內容來圖利特定團體的貪腐交易,其危害恐怕更甚於其他。因為法律一旦受到扭曲, 其影響是持續、廣泛、長久的,民眾的觀感也會十分惡劣,進而損害對國家社會的信心與信賴。

至於公職人員財產申報法方面,實無待多言,必須 強化其規範內容,對不實申報甚至拒不申報的案例,課以嚴厲的懲罰;否則此法即形同具文,對巨貪高官,毫無拘束力。陳水扁的申報案例就是明顯的例證,其大量 高價珠寶、名錶等,取得情形極有爭議,又拒不申報,也不在乎違反申報規定時的處罰,則此一法律豈能有端正政風的作用?故修法強化內容,實屬刻不容緩。

其 他陽光法案,或可稱廣義的陽光法案,例如政黨法、總統及公職人員選罷法的修正、法務部設立廉政局的組織法等等,其合理性和必要性如仍有爭議,即應進行更多 細密的論證並向社會說明。例如,廉政局有無設置必要,與調查局職權有無重疊,及調查局是否能夠脫離政治控制等關係密切,仍應仔細斟酌。其實,過去的問題是 在當局執法的態度不夠公正、堅定,而並非沒有執法的機關。與其疊床架屋,不如提供既有司法單位一個不受政治干擾、可以公正執法的空間。


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