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Talk of the Day -- Premier's indignation over 'broken urinal'

Talk of the Day -- Premier's indignation over 'broken urinal'

Wang Fu-lin, director-general of the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, was given an admonition Monday for failing to supervise maintenance work of a urinal at the complex in Taipei. Up to four staff members found responsible for the urinal that was out of order for six months were also punished and reassigned to different positions. The five civil servants were punished after an intervention by Premier Jiang Yi-huah, who was said to be furious about their "cavalier" attitude toward the problem. On Jan. 4, a member of the public made news by posting a picture of the urinal with an "Out of Order" sign placed in it on the Internet. The sign had been there for six months, he scoffed. "So much for government efficiency." The premier's intervention met with different reactions, with some seeing it as a sign of things to come in an expected Cabinet reshuffle in the next few weeks and others saying that he should find more important things to do. The memorial hall said the urinal was in fact not out of order but the sign was put up to prevent the public from using it because insufficient water level caused the auto flush to not function properly, leaving the urinal -- the last one in a row of urinals -- to appear untidy.
The following are excerpts of major local newspapers' coverage of the episode: United Daily News: After seeing the news report, Jiang called Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai to demand prompt action, as he thinks the cavalier attitude reflected by the disrepair of the urinal "has had a serious impact on administrative efficiency," said Cabinet spokeswoman Cheng Li-wun. The hall is a venue for cultural activities run by the Ministry of Culture. While pointing out that Jiang did not target the minister, a Cabinet official who did not want to be named said the premier's intervention highlights one of the things he values the most in the performance of his executive team: the ability to deliver concrete results. China Times: It is the second time in a week that Jiang has demanded the punishment of civil servants for lack of efficiency. On Jan. 2, he wanted those responsible for a delay in submitting official paperwork on fuel subsidies for taxis punished. The subsidy was to take effect on New Year's Day but he did not see the paper until getting back to work after the New Year holiday. For Jiang, the broken toilet is not only an indictment of the government but also a challenge to his authority, given the emphasis that he has put on the need for efficiency and for the people's expectations to be met. What's more, even though Jiang has been premier for nearly a year, some ministers look only to President Ma Ying-jeou for instruction and sometimes even send subordinates to the weekly Cabinet meetings in their place. All this has not been lost on Jiang, a source close to the premier said. (Jan. 7, 2014)


Updated : 2020-12-04 17:02 GMT+08:00