Control Yuan censures Cabinet and Kaohsiung in Lin case

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Control Yuan, the nation’s top government watchdog, on Wednesday censured the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Kaohsiung City Government for the cases related to former Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih.
Lin and several members of his family are on trial for corruption and money laundering after he reportedly demanded NT$63 million (US$2.1 million) in bribes from a businessman in return for the extension of a contract with the state-controlled China Steel Corporation Group.
The Control Yuan approved a motion Wednesday morning faulting the Cabinet and the MOEA for a lack of supervision over CSC and its affiliates which allowed unsuitable political influence to be exerted over the companies’ decisions.
The MOEA failed to supervise how CSC Group companies sold slag and other byproducts of the steelmaking process, the Control Yuan said. The result was that the selection of subcontractors happened on a subjective basis and led to environmental disputes and illegal profits.
The CSC Group “just sold the products to whomever they wanted to sell it to” without establishing any standards, Control Yuan member Yeh Yao-peng said, adding there would have been no Lin Yi-shih scandal if standards had been in place.
The accusations against Lin were originally made by a businessman, Chen Chi-hsiang, who was asked for money by Lin, at first still a senior lawmaker for the ruling Kuomintang, in return for a contract to receive slag from the CSC Group. After Lin joined the Cabinet in early 2012, he asked for a further NT$83 million (US$2.8 million), but Chen refused to pay and took his story to Next Magazine.
The Control Yuan also accused the MOEA of questionable management practices at the CSC Group and of not allowing the company enough independence from politics, reports said.
The Kaohsiung City Government’s Environmental Protection Bureau was censured because of its handling of Chen’s contract. After he refused to pay Lin, he complained the bureau initiated sanctions for pollution against his company, barring him from receiving more supply from the CSC Group.
The bureau had also proved unable to stop Chen’s company from storing more than 800,000 tons of slag since 2002, posing a danger to public health and causing various forms of pollution damage, the Control Yuan said. From 2008 to 2012, the company was fined 51 times for a total of NT$5.17 million (US$175,000), but the measures lacked any effect. The bureau’s failures formed sufficient grounds for the censure action against the city government, the Control Yuan argued.
At present, no disciplinary actions would be taken against individuals because the case was still working its way through the courts, the Control Yuan said.
The Lin scandal was a major embarrassment for President Ma Ying-jeou, whose image as a clean politician suffered severe damage. Lin was seen as part of a new generation of rising stars within the KMT and as a possible future party candidate for mayor of Kaohsiung, traditionally an opposition stronghold.
Later last year, the ruling party also faced alleged corruption scandals surrounding the Nantou county magistrate and a brother of the Changhua county magistrate.