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June 24, 2017

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Punishments for Civil Service runaways look set to become stricter

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Judicial Yuan is proposing amendments to the Civil Service Disciplinary Code (公務人員懲戒法) to prevent civil servants' unlawful actions in evading punishment by using retirement as an excuse, measures such as depriving or reducing pensions are being considered and may become law, said an official from the Judicial Yuan yesterday.

The changes are being made primarily for public servants who have used retirement to avoid sanctions for law violations. The Judicial Yuan has already handed the proposal to the Examination Yuan for further discussions because the Ministry of Civil Service (MCS, 詮敘部) feared that there would be issues of double jeopardy, which would not be fair to public servants, said the MCS.

The Examination Yuan passed the so called "Huang Ji-min Terms" (黃季敏條款) of the "Civil Service Retirement Act" two years ago with the case of Huang Ji-min, ex-director of the National Fire Agency (消防署), who was charged with corruption after his retirement.

The terms state that current civil servants cannot receive their pensions in advance, will stop receiving their pensions and also be requested to return all pension payments already received if they are sentenced to more than seven years in jail after retirement. It also states that if a civil servant only receives "denotation" or "less pension" with the Civil Service Disciplinary Code after retirement or severance, the pensions or severance payments will need to be recalculated and the difference of the balance needs to be paid back by the offender.

Holes in Current Regulation

However, the Judicial Yuan stated that the present regulation is "Significantly unreasonable and needs necessary corrections." The Judicial Yuan suggests specifying members who have retired or resigned for unlawful reasons to prevent them from using resignation as a means of evading possible punishment.

The most severe punishment would be "to lose the position and qualifications of a civil servant." The necessary and effective retribution for those who retired or resigned for other reasons would be to "strip or reduce pensions." The provision also states that the government's reputation will be severely damaged if civil service members make any unlawful violations while performing non-executive tasks, thus they would also receive punishment.

To protect civil servants' rights, the MCS has its own opinion. MCS stated that there are abstract and incorrect legal concepts that put doubt on the definition of the Judicial Yuan's proposal. The case will be handed to the review board of the Examination Yuan for further inspection.

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