Taiwan's corruption problem will not be solved in decades

After seeing this, that Taiwan's Lawmakers halve benefits for ex-presidents, apparently a result of party politics, I am not optimistic that Taiwan's corruption situation will improve, whichever party will be in power after Bian.

Why? The most effective measure against corruption is to provide those in power with the financial compensation they deserve, so that they would not worry about living comfortable lives during and after their tenure. Taking away the retirement benefits is a hint to ask the president in power to prepare for his future on his own.

Taiwan is not US, ex-president cannot make quarter million US$ for a single speech. There is just no such scale in the speech/PR business. Even if there is, the government should still make sure the officials are worry-free, especially financially. This also applies to officials of all level.

There are wealthy politicians for whom the stipends are immaterial, such as Berlusconi or Lien Chan. Does Taiwanese people want to be ruled by such people? I do not doubt that successful businessmen makes more competent politicans, but the population base for rich people is just too small to provide the leaders we need.

The single most important reason for the cleanliness of Singapore and HK is the competitive salary packages for public servants. When Ma Ying-Jeou visited Singapore 2 months ago, Did he bothered to pick Lee Kuan Yew's brain? Had he bothered to pay Lee Kuan Yew a visit and asked the proper question, he would not have made such a major mistake.

I admire Ma's courage in admitting mistakes, and in doing the right things. I also believe he did nothing wrong in supporting the recall, even though tactically it may not serve the best benefit to himself or KMT. However, Ma is not perfect, he does fall into the complacency trap from time to time, first by being ambiguous in Taitung's election, now in this ex-president benefit fiasco.

Corruption is an economical symptom. It should be solved economically. Being a clean and competent lawyers is easy (for Ma), build a good legal structure and comptetent anti-corruption team is important, but that alone cannot solve the problem.


Michael Turton said...

But previously presidents received higher salaries...and were massively corrupt (the murderous Chiangs, for example). Further, high salaries and excellent compensation -- 18% interest on retirement accounts! -- have not prevented widespread corruption in the bureaucracy and law enforcement. High salaries in the old days for the investigation arm did not prevent the emergence of a system of regular shakedowns of local merchants for cash.

What is needed is the idea of civic society, and a populace that demands honest government, and itself behaves honestly. Taiwan has none...

Sun Bin said...

1. good compensation (i would benchmark senior mgt of private corporations) is necessary (but not sufficient) condition to fight corruption. note mainland china was very clean through 1970s, once they discover the value of money, even good moral cannot hold them from the temptations.

2. so even if you are right, i am not saying competitive compensation is the cure, it is just one of the many (but most important) measures to curb corruption. the objective is not to save money, it is to provide a fair environment for the citizens. -- see singapore.

3. i don't know if you are guessing, or you have digged up the numbers, i can bet even chiang's salaries were dismal. i.e. way below a decent corporate manager's. there is no way he amassed his wealth by saving.

4. 18% interest rate may be low if you got brazilian inflation. so instead, they should just add a few percent above inflation. however, paying high interest is, in my view, the best way to encourage corruption when in power. a better option should be paying retirement wages, not interest to their savings.

p.s. the old chiang is murdeous, so is his clan, but chiang jr is not that bad. you should not make such blanket statement.