Thursday, April 10, 2008

Don't Let the Man behind the Curtain remain in Hiding

Don't Let the Man behind the Curtain remain in Hiding
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 10, 2008

The ruling DPP is on its way out. But even the way it is closing up shop, with the Taipower vice presidential appointment scandal, is leaving people disgusted. Taipower's new vice president was forced upon the Taipower Board of Trustees against its judgment and without its approval. When Taipower chairman Chen Kui-min dared to speak out on the matter, Minister of Economic Affairs Steven Chen openly accused Chen of insubordination. Suspicions arose that the new vice presidency had been sold to the highest bidder. Yesterday Steven Chen conceded that Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Ching-chun was responsible for the appointment. This deplorable behavior has left people shaking their heads. Nor does it end here. Was Chen Ching-chun really as high as it went? Or does the scandal involve officials at the very apex of the ruling regime?

Why did the appointment of a mere deputy general manager of Taipower required the intervention of the Minister of Economic Affairs? What sort of pressures were brought to bear? Why was Steven Chen so apoplectic? What was the quid pro quo? Why was the active intervention of such a high-ranking official as Steven Chen in the official appointment of such a low-ranking official? What would motivate a regime already on its way out, to make "one last killing," in utter disregard of appearances?

Throughout the process, no one paid the slightest attention to the Taipower or Ministry of Economic Affairs personnel promotion and examination protocols. The code of ethics for state-owned enterprises was irrevelant. All that mattered was good "guanxi." Over the years the Ministry of Economic Affairs has energetically promoted sound corporate governance. Today however, because the Taipower Board of Trustees refused to approve a vice presidential appointment, Steven Chen wants Chen Kui-min's head. This is an open declaration that the board of directors of state-owned enterprises are rubber stamps. This amounts to taking the lead in violating the principles of corporate governance.

The most serious problem remains hidden. Throughout the entire personnel appointment scandal, the Man behind the Curtain has remained in shadow. The Huang Fu-jen appointment scandal broke over a week ago. Yet not a single political appointee has had the guts to point the finger at the Man behind the Curtain. By remaining tight-lipped, Steven Chen has thrown away his hard-earned 30 year reputation for integrity. This tells us how far up the ladder of power the scandal reaches. In short, the real question is: Who is the Man behind the Curtain? If we fixate on the claims and counterclaims bandied back and forth between Steven Chen, Chen Kui-min, and Chen Ching-chun, if no one is willing to identify the Man behind the Curtain, we will never learn the truth.

Traditionally, Taipower has always had only seven vice presidents. The Executive Yuan forced Taipower to accept and eighth -- Huang Fu-yuan. For his sake alone, the Executive Yuan violated company precedent. It directly promoted a deputy chief to the rank of vice president. His seniority, qualifications, and experience were questionable. The former Taipower chairman blocked this move for over a month. During this process people warned Steven Chen that this appointment was controversial. But Steven Chen ignored their warnings. Taipower chairman Chen Kui-min personally appealed to Hsieh Fa-ta, the vice chairman of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Chen said Huang Fu-yuan was suspected of buying official positions, bribery, and other violations. Hsieh Fa-ta questioned internal affairs, Huang Fu-jen, and Taipower directors. In the end, based solely on Huang Fu-jen's declaration that he would "commit hara kiri" if he was unqualified, Hsieh ordered the board of directors to approve Huang Fu-jen's appointment.

The majority of Taipower directors refused. They doubted the legality of Huang's appointment. Steven Chen responded by publicly accusing Chen Kui-min of "insubordination" and of "failure to implement orders." He went so far as to declare that he intended to replace him. The reasons he gave were: Chen Kui-min was openly insubordinate, therefore this amounted to a "disciplinary issue that no party in power could possibly tolerate." Steven Chen apparently forgot that as Minister of Economic Affairs, he had a far greater responsibility to uphold the code of ethics for state-owned enterprises and to safeguard the nation's justice system.

Steven Chen stated publicly several times that he did not know Huang Fu-jen. He said Huang was appointed "at the urging of a certain political figure." Under pressure of public opinion, Steven Chen admitted yesterday that the political figure in question was Chen Ching-chun. Only a week ago, Chen Ching-chun assured the media that the appointment had nothing to do with him. Yesterday he changed his tune. He said "many people" recommended Huang Fu-jen. He said he then informed the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which then made its decision in strict adherence with professional criteria. One cannot help wondering: Did Huang Fu-jen lobby "many people" who urged the Executive Yuan to approve his appointment? Did they coerce Taipower's CFO and senior board members to accept his nomination? Did the ruling regime's highest-ranking executives take the lead in violating the law?

A vice presidential appointment scandal has allowed the public on Taiwan to see just how thoroughly degenerate their government officials are. Internal discipline is one of the most basic requirements in the administration of a corporation or a government. Take the employees of state-owned enterprises for example. Officials must be promoted according to a fair evaluation process. Buying official positions is absolutely forbidden. So is acquiring an official position by means of "guanxi." The Minister of Economic Affairs is the chief supervisor of a nation's state-owned industries. He must maintain a fair and transparent system for personnel evaluations and appointments. Appointees must be individuals of integrity and meet objective standards of performance. Problemmatic candidates are out of the question. This is the very least one has a right to expect. Today however, the ruling DPP covers up for cronies, allowing them to climb to the top of the ladder. Political appointees have a responsibility to safeguard the fundamental values of the system. Instead, they make feeble excuses and neglect their duties. Meanwhile the Man behind the Curtain remains in hiding, preparing to escape all legal and political responsibility. What can one do but shake one's head?

中國時報  2008.04.10

  為了一樁台電副總的人事案,讓即將關門熄燈的民進黨政府,連收攤的身影都讓人看不下去!從台電董事會未通過上級交辦的副總人事案,經濟部長陳瑞隆直接點名 台電董事長陳貴明「抗命」,接著疑似買官、求官指控赤裸裸的上演,到昨天陳瑞隆挑明就是行政院祕書長陳景峻所交代。這一幕幕令人搖頭嘆息的官場現形記,擺 明了還會有續集:陳景峻真的就是最高層嗎?沒有更高層的黑手或黑手集團了嗎?

 一個小小台電副總經理這等芝麻綠豆官,竟要勞動經濟部長橫 柴入灶護航!究竟什麼樣的壓力?讓陳瑞隆會如此氣急敗壞!是什麼樣的利益?會讓比陳瑞隆更高層次的人物,非要積極介入這樣的芝麻綠豆官人事案!又是什麼樣 的陰影?會讓一個即將下台的政府,在最後階段,公然演出如此被視為是「最後一撈」的不顧觀瞻!

 整個過程中,台電及經濟部內部人事升遷考 核制度沒人在乎,國營事業企業倫理好像根本不重要,一切似乎只要有政治關係力挺就好。多年來經濟部致力推動公司治理,如今陳瑞隆以台電董事會未通過這項人 事案,就要撤換陳貴明,等於擺明只把國營事業董事會當成橡皮圖章,帶頭違反公司治理。

 最嚴重的是隱藏在這整齣人事安插戲碼背後的黑手與 幽靈,即便黃傅源人事案爆發至少已一周,還是沒有個政務官敢全盤托出這背後黑手。甚至,陳瑞隆還把他卅年公職清譽賠進去,可見背後這黑手與幽靈權威之深 遠。換言之,真正的關鍵,是那隻「黑手」,如果只是攪和在陳瑞隆、陳貴明和陳景峻之間的是是非非,卻不願與不敢揪出這黑手,真相不會因此明朗!

  台電傳統上只有七個副總,行政院塞黃傅源進來變成八個副總。行政院等於為他一個人不惜打破所有行政慣例,由二級主管直升副總,由於年資、資格、歷練都有爭 議,台電老董擋就擋了一個多月,這過程中曾不斷有人提醒、警告陳瑞隆這樁人事安排有爭議,但陳瑞隆不是置之不理,就是未加重視,即便是在台電董事長陳貴明 親自向經濟部次長謝發達反映黃傅源涉嫌買官、賄賂等情事,謝發達還把政風、黃傅源、以及檢舉台電董事找來對質,最後只憑黃傅源「切腹保證」,仍照樣要求董 事會通過這項問題人事。

 由於台電多數董事在法律有疑義考量下未通過此人事案。陳瑞隆就立即在媒體面前指陳貴明「抗命」、「執行不力」、 「不成體統」,更進一步挑明要撤換陳貴明,理由是:公股就是要執行官方意志,陳貴明公然抗命,這是「紀律問題,任何一個政黨執政,都不會容忍這種事。」陳 瑞隆大概忘記,身為經濟部長,捍衛國營事業企業倫理、維護國家制度公正性,他有更大的責任。

 陳瑞隆幾度公開表示,他不認識黃傅源,這項 人事是由一位「政壇人士所推薦」。在輿論的強大壓力下,陳瑞隆才在昨天講出是陳景峻所交代,而才在一周前,陳景峻才對媒體說,這人事與他全然無干,昨日陳 景峻已改口,是有「很多人」向他推薦黃傅源,他轉而告知經濟部,再由經濟部依專業選才,綜合考量。外界不禁質疑:黃傅源是不是先動員很多人向行政院關說, 然後再有很多人向行政院推薦,然後行政院就接受這個人選?然後逼迫經長、台電老董接受這個人選?若果真如此,這個政府的最高行政首長們,不就真的是帶頭違 法亂紀?

 一個副總人事案,讓台灣人民見證了台灣官箴徹底的墮落!本來不論公司治理、國家治理,內部紀律化都是最基本的價值與要求。以國 營事業人事為例,紀律化即是所有官員人事升遷都應透過公平考核過程,買官、靠關係絕對是要禁止的;做為國營事業首長、經濟部部長,人事任用更應維護公平透 明考核機制,其品格及資歷要符合標準,問題人事絕對不能用,這是最起碼、最基本的價值與道理。如今為了掩護有關係的人爬上高位,有責任維護制度與基本價值 的政務官,還厚顏無恥地狡辯,完全忘記政務官的責任。而隱藏在背後的黑手,到現在都還意圖要逃脫所有法律與政治責任,這一切如何不讓人搖頭嘆息!

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