Reports of legislators and city councilors brokering deals for kickbacks are not uncommon in Taiwan but the recent bribery case involving a high-ranking Cabinet official is especially embarrassing to the government and deeply scars the image of President Ma Ying-jeou's administration.
A Taipei court on Monday granted a request by prosecutors to detain former Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih over bribery accusations, after prosecutors found evidence that Lin had taken bribes from a wealthy businessman in exchange for help to obtain a contract with a subsidiary of a publicly listed firm which the government has a controlling stake.
Lin has admitted that he took NT$63 million (US$2.1 million) from the businessman in 2010 and solicited another NT$83 million earlier this year.
The case of Lin, who is seen as one of the proteges of the president and has held key posts under ruling Kuomintang and the Ma administration, casts the government in a bad light at a time when public sentiment against corruption remains high.
The Lin case also derails Ma's efforts to distinguish his administration from that of former President Chen Shui-bian, who was convicted on corruption charges and sentenced in 2010 to 17.5 years in prison.
The matter also exposes flaws in Ma's personnel appointments.
Meanwhile, the arrogance Lin has displayed in describing the privileges he enjoyed in government is disappointing.
His defense of his relationship with the company as one of services to his constituency commercializes the job of the legislators and is a mere excuse for pursuing personal gains at the expense of national interests. (Editorial abstract -- July 3, 2012)
(By Scully Hsiao)