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Time to scrap the Control and Examination Yuan

The Legislative Yuan closed its extraordinary session last Friday without confirming President Ma Ying-jeou's nomination of a new 29-member Control Yuan, thanks to the “technical” opposition put up by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on the floor. Opposition party lawmakers blocked the access of their Kuomintang (KMT) counterparts to the ballot box until Wang Jin-pyng, president of the Legislative Yuan or parliament speaker, declared the session adjourned.

So, the governing party that has a majority control of the parliament is planning to call another extraordinary session during its summer break to get all the nominees confirmed. The planned session is to take place from July 28 through Aug. 8 so that the confirmation may be made before the end of next month lest the nation be left without its highest watchdog body. The six-year term of all incumbent members expires on July 31.

It's time for the nation to seriously consider the deactivation of the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan, whose nominated members were confirmed only late last month.

Both government bodies are uniquely Chinese. The Control Yuan is a reincarnation of the Imperial Censorate (御史台), first established during the Qin dynasty (221-207 B.C.) During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), the Censorate became a branch of the centralized bureaucracy, paralleling the Six Ministries and the five Chief Military Commissions, and was directly accountable to the emperor. The censors were “the eyes and ears” of the emperor and checked administrators at each level to prevent corruption and malfeasance.

The Examination Yuan (考試院) is in charge of validating the qualifications of civil servants. China was the first country in the world to conduct civil service examinations, institutionalizing them during the Tang dynasty (618-907). It may be compared with the European Personnel Selection Office of the European Union or the Office of Personnel Management of the United States.

The long tradition made Dr. Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Republic of China, dictate a five-power constitution that was adopted in 1947 and is still in effect in Taiwan. Its five-power government consists of the Executive Yuan (Cabinet), Legislative Yuan (Parliament), Judicial Yuan (Supreme and Constitutional Court), Control Yuan and Examination Yuan. The abolition of the last two powers needs a constitutional amendment.

Are the two yuans necessary? They have long been unneeded. Let's get back to history. Chiang Kai-shek lost the Chinese civil war in 1949 and moved his KMT government from Nanjing to Taipei. Elected president of the Republic of China in 1948 in accordance with the constitution, he had to uphold that constitution as he began to rule Taiwan as part of the Republic of China, keeping the unwanted Control and Examination Yuan intact. All the presidents of the Republic of China, including Chen Shui-bian of the DPP, were duty-bound to let the two yuans continue to function, despite every one of them knowing that the duo are two little white elephants, as they had to apply a spoils or patronage system.

The government of the Republic of China in Taiwan today is becoming so impoverished that it should try to save a couple million bucks a year by throwing the two little white elephants into the trash can of history.

The opposition party agreed to let the Examination Yuan survive. Despite its opposition, it would let the Control Yuan survive, too, because it needs the spoils system after, as it hopes, it comes back to power in 2016. That's why its lawmakers are calling for a reduction in the duration in office and number of members for the new Control Yuan to be inaugurated on Aug. 1.

Would the ruling KMT party try to compromise by proposing to phase out the Control Yuan as well as the Examination Yuan by initiating another amendment to the 1947 constitution? It would do an immense service to the nation if it did.

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