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Whistle-blower protection draft bill unveiled by KMT lawmaker

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A lawmaker has unveiled a draft bill protecting whistle-blowers who uncover irregularities within government bodies and private firms.

Legislator Ting Shou-chung of the ruling Kuomintang said his draft bill seeks to clearly define whistle-blowers, and introduce regulations governing the procedure of whistle-blowing.

 A commission will be set up to handle matters concerning protection and rewards for whistle-blowers, Ting said.

The bill aims at encouraging internal monitoring in the government and private sectors, Ting said, adding that there are similar laws protecting whistle-blowers in the United States, Britain and Japan.

The KMT legislator, speaking at a press conference explaining the bill, said the draft was made with help from experts and scholars in related fields, and it has already won endorsements from fellow lawmakers and been submitted to the Legislature.

He said he hopes the bill can complete legislation as soon as possible, helping the government tackle problems such as food safety, insider trading and pollution.

The need for a law to encourage and protect whistle-blowing has triggered some serious discussion among the general public and inside the government following the cooking oil scare and illegal disposal of wastewater by Advanced Semiconductor Engineering in Kaohsiung.

Supporters say had there been a whistle-blower law, the rogue cooking oil vendors and many pollution cases would have been exposed long ago by employees.

Huang Tien-mu, vice chairperson of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), expressed support for Ting draft bill.

Huang, who was among a few other government officials attending the Ting-organized press conference, said the FSC hopes the law can strengthen private companies' internal discipline.

You Jui-teh, head of the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Department of Commerce, said his department, which governs some 1.28 million companies, will be glad to see the Ting-proposed draft become law.

He said employees have been unable to do much when their companies break the law. You said a law is needed to protect whistle-blowers.

Chu Kung-mao, director-general of Agency Against Corruption (AAC), said the Ministry of Justice has also been studying the possibility of introducing a law encouraging whistle-blowing on corruption within the government sector.

A draft bill is expected to be forwarded to the Cabinet Council by the end of the first half of the year, he said.

As corruption may also be rampant in the private sector, the ministry is also looking to extend the whistle-blowing bill to cover private firms, Chu said.

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