Provincial government defends hiring of controversial public servant
Central News Agency
2014-07-31 10:41 PM
Taipei, July 31 (CNA) The Taiwan Provincial Government Thursday defended the legality of its hiring this year a former official from the defunct Government Information Office (GIO) who was forced to step down years ago for derogatory comments about native Taiwanese. Kuo Kuan-ying, former secretary of the GIO branch in Toronto, was hired as the foreign affairs secretary of the Taiwan Provincial Government in February this year, shortly before his 65th birthday, sparking speculation that he got the job in order to secure a comfortable pension upon retiring.

"The Taiwan Provincial Government acted in line with the law and legal proceeding in hiring Kuo," contended Chien Chun-kan, deputy secretary of the nominal provincial government, which has little power and duty.

Kuo sparked public outrage in 2009 when it came to light that he was behind a series of political commentaries authored under the pseudonym Fan Lan-chin. In addition to comments defending the government's bloody crackdown of protesters during the 228 Incident in 1947, he drew fire for elitist remarks such as calling himself a "high-class mainlander" in contrast to the families who had lived in Taiwan for generations. He was dismissed from his post for "seriously undermining the reputation" of the government and civil servants in general. Kuo's hiring this year, just months before retirement age, is supported by the Civil Servants Retirement Act, which states that those born between January and June officially retire on July 16. That enables him to a monthly pension of up to NT$70,000 (US$2,329).

The Control Yuan, the highest government supervisory body, censured the Taiwan Provincial Government this month over his hiring. Chien, however, said Thursday that the censure did not say that the Taiwan Provincial Government broke the law, only that the hiring decision was "slapdash." On whether Kuo can claim his pension, Chien said the Ministry of Civil Service will study the matter and make the final decision. Outgoing Control Yuan member Chien Lin Hui-chun, whose term expired Thursday, said she will continue to pursue the case after stepping down. "As long as I live, I'll pursue it to the end," Chien Lin said.

"The hiring of Kuo was invalid in the first place," she argued, calling the process so "slapdash and flawed" that even the Ministry of Civil Service had taken note. She said that the Taiwan Provincial Government did not interview Kuo before hiring him but gave him the highest marks of any candidate regardless based on his "comprehensive education and experience." She argued that although hiring is up to the provincial government authorities, they should not abuse their power. Taiwan Province encompasses most of Taiwan proper except for the five special municipalities, including the capital, Taipei.

The provincial government was streamlined in 1998, after which its administrative duties have been almost entirely ceremonial. (By Hsieh Chia-chen, Huang Yi-han and Lilian Wu)

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