Following the bribery case involving former Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih, prosecutors recently uncovered another one implicating former National Fire Agency chief Huang Chi-min.
The string of corruption cases against government officials that has come to light over the past two years indicates that Taiwan still has a long way to go before it has a clean government.
In this latest case, Huang is suspected of taking over NT$100 million in bribes for many procurement projects during his tenure from 2003 to 2009.
Although investigators began to look into the case three years ago when he had already retired, their efforts to request the relevant procurement documents from the agency were blocked on a number of occasions, possibly due to the help of his accomplices.
An investigation should be launched into Huang's network of accomplices to identify other officials who may also be involved.
The prevalence of collective corruption explains why the Anti-Corruption Act has failed to produce its deterrent effect. A bribery scandal within the customs system that was exposed last year is a typical case of such collective corruption. The case has highlighted the failure of the government's internal control mechanism.
Similarly, there have in fact been clues pointing to Huang's possible corruption since 2005. The government's ethics units and the Control Yuan should have taken the initiative to investigate them earlier on.
Corruption involving government officials costs the government the people's trust and does serious harm to democracy. The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou should deal with such cases carefully and must not wait for prosecutors to take action. (Editorial abstract -- Aug. 31, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)