Taipei mayor announces anti-corruption pledge for high-ranking staff

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday announced the draft of a new transparent anti-corruption pledge, a plan that will apply to high-ranking Taipei City Government staff.

During the mayor's routine post-municipal meeting press conference yesterday, the mayor announced the draft for the new policy. The new pact elaborated on four of Ko's previous 10 transparent anti-corruption pacts that were released as part of his election platform.

While five other agreements remained the same, the seventh item from Ko's platform, which promised that all Taipei City contract employees and substitute staffs must be hired only after public announcement and following a qualification examination, was taken away. The policy had been scheduled to come into effect as early as March 25.

Reportedly, the city government said that the pledge mainly targets administrative officers, high-ranking personnel and individuals who serve as chief executive officers for the city government in private legal persons.

The city government also said that pacts are neither autonomous nor administrative regulations by nature, which means that individuals whom the pledge targets have the freedom to choose to accept or decline.

However, likewise, the mayor also has the flexibility of not hiring those who refuse the plan, which was why Ko was quoted as saying, "Anyone who doesn't sign should say bye-bye," during the press conference. Ko had also previously said that those who do not agree with his terms should not work with him during the early drafting of the regulation

The mayor also explained the "transparency" that must be applied toward the agreement. Ko said that all individuals who accept his terms must have a clean and accurate record of all of their financials, as well as social and lobbying activities. The city government stressed that all meetings and dinners that are not conducted for the sake of "family gatherings" must be reported.

Lower-ranking Staff Disappointed over Removal of Pledge No. 7

According to sources, Ko's removal of his seventh transparent anti-corruption pact that he promised during his mayoral campaign has upset a number of his lower-ranking Taipei City Hall subordinates.

Reportedly, Ko's intention for the said clause was to eradicate the culture of hiring people through connections, and also the practices of nepotism and bribery. However, after assuming office, it has been said that most, if not all, of the city's departments are still hiring contract employees and substitute staff based on connections.

Unnamed city government staff said that as lower-ranking employees are not put under the spotlight, it is an obvious blind spot when it comes to people asking favors from others.

The hiring of contract employees through transparent means could serve as an opportunity for grassroots citizens to be considered for a job in the public sector, so if Ko cannot eliminate hiring practices which violate neutrality, then the mayor should not have proclaimed the policy during his election campaign, the unnamed source said.