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Before the Agency Against Corruption was established, the Department of Government Employee Ethics of the Ministry of Justice supervised and managed all of the different government employee ethics units throughout Taiwan. From July, 1953 to August, 1972, the predecessors of the government employee ethics units were called safety offices. Their main responsibility was to carry out protection and safety operations for government institutions. The Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Justice would select and train personnel in the “protection class”. On August 1st, 1972, the safety unit system was discontinued and transformed into a personnel evaluation unit, the organizational structure of which was incorporated into the personnel units of each government institution, and thus called the personnel offices. The main duty of personnel offices was to perform personnel checks and evaluations. These units were still under the command and supervision of the Investigation Bureau, and their personnel were recruited by public examination and with the professional training in the “personnel evaluation class”. After trainees had completed the training and passed the corresponding civil service examination, they were assigned to different personnel evaluation units of government institutions. During this time period, some of the trainees who had completed the Investigation Bureau’s “investigation class” were also assigned to work in personnel evaluation units.
After the Act of the Establishment and Management of the Government Employee Ethics Units and Officers was announced and enforced on July 1st, 1992, personnel evaluation units of all government agencies were transformed into the government employee ethics units (with government employee ethics offices established). The main duty of these units was to carry out civil service ethics operations, promote clean and competent governance and ensure safety of government institutions. According to the Act, the Ministry of Justice, in order to integrate the operation of all ethics units, began to administer civil service ethics personnel examination in 1993. Personnel who had passed the examination would first be assigned to ethics units of certain government institutions and afterwards be trained in group by the Ministry of Justice in “civil service ethics class”, lasting 3 to 6 months. In 1995, the civil service ethics personnel examination was merged into the Civil Service Senior Examination and Junior Examination and therefore became the civil ethics category of the Examinations (aka the 5th civil service ethics class). In order to maintain the human resource stability of county and city governments, the basic-level special examination (which was renamed Civil Service Special Examinations for Local Government Personnel in 2003) was added. Accepted examinees would also receive a professional group training held by the Ministry of Justice.
After the party alternation in the 2000 presidential election, the new Minister of the Ministry of Justice, Chen Ding-Nan, pledged to promote the establishment of the “Agency Against Corruption, Ministry of Justice”, the amendment of the Ministry of Justice Organization Act and the formulation of the Draft of Organization Act of the Agency against Corruption. The draft was passed in the Executive Yuan meeting no. 2703, was referred to the Legislative Yuan for review, and was listed as one of the priority bills in the 5th session of the 4th term. However, since there were too many versions regarding the draft (7 versions in total), the consensus was not reached during the Consult among Political Parties and was thus postponed.
During the 63rd policy coordination board of the Executive Yuan on October 17th, 2005, attendees strongly proposed that anti-corruption operation should be actively strengthened, in order to achieve the goal of “eliminating dirty money and facilitating clean governance”. The Government Employee Ethics Department was the policy developer and the Bureau against Corruption was established to organize anti-corruption operation and formulate “the Draft of the Bureau against Corruption Organization Act and the corresponding “Draft of the Partial Revision of the Ministry of Justice Organization Act”. These drafts were passed during the Executive Yuan meeting No. 2963 on October 26th, 2005, and was referred to the Legislative Yuan for review. However, by the end of the 6th session of the 6th term, the drafts had not yet been reviewed. The drafts were again passed by the Executive Yuan during the meeting No. 3079 on February 13th, 2008 and was referred to the Legislative Yuan (7th Term) for review.
After Ching-Feng Wang became the new Minister of the Ministry of Justice in May, 2008, he felt that even though investigative institutions, government employee ethics units and the Investigation Bureau are working together to prevent and investigate corruption which already had achieved significant results, there was still a societal need and expectation for the establishment of a specialized anti-corruption institution to integrate the current organizations. For this reason a task group was formed to conduct a review regarding the originally plan “Ministry of Justice Anti-Corruption Bureau”, moreover, to research and discuss the necessity of establishing a specialized anti-corruption institution. On May 22nd, 2009 the task force submitted the “Evaluation Report for the Establishment of a Specialized National Anti-Corruption Institution” to the Executive Yuan as policy reference. The report recommended the need of establishing a specialized organization for conducting anti-corruption, corruption prevention and corruption investigation operations. On July 27th, 2009 the “Ministry of Justice Organizational Adjustment Planning Group Meeting” was held. During the meeting, it was decided to combine the Government Employee Ethics Department and the Central Office to establish the Ministry of Justice Agency Against Corruption (AAC), and that the Government Employee Ethics Department (Operations Unit) would be changed to the Government Employee Ethics Office (Auxiliary Unit). Because the planned principles and content of the newly planned AAC were different than the previously planned Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Ministry of Justice requested the Executive Yuan to withdraw the “Organic Ministry of Justice Anti-Corruption Bureau Draft” and the “Organic Ministry of Justice Act Article 9-1 and Article 29 Revision Draft” on December 4th 2009. On January 8th, 2010, the Legislative Yuan withdrew the drafts with order No. 0990700163.
In order to show the government’s determination to fight corruption and meet the expectations of the public by implementing the regulations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, President Ma announced the establishment of the “Ministry of Justice Agency Against Corruption” on July 20th, 2011. The AAC was created as a specialized organization, which is responsible for the country’s integrity policy planning, the execution of anti-corruption, corruption prevention and corruption investigation operations. The AAC strives to use the three-pronged method for treating the symptoms of corruption (law enforcement), curing the causes of corruption (prevention efforts) and removing the roots of corruption (education), which help AAC in achieving the goals of increasing the conviction rate of corruption-related crime, lowering the rate of corruption-related crime and ensuring the protection of human rights. The Ministry of Justice submitted the “Organic Ministry of Justice Agency Against Corruption Act Draft” and the “Partial Revision of the Organic Ministry of Justice Act Draft (regarding the Agency Against Corruption)” to the Executive Yuan on September 23rd, 2010, in order to complete the integrity system of Taiwan. The drafts of these acts were given priority to be reviewed and passed during the 6th session of the 7th term by the Legislative Yuan. Following the passing of Executive Yuan during No. 3220 conference on November 4th, 2010, the drafts were sent to the Legislative Yuan for review.
On December 9th, 2010 the “Organic Ministry of Justice Agency Against Corruption Act Draft” was passed unanimously during the 16th meeting of the 6th session of the 7th term by the Judicial and Legal Commission of Legislative Yuan. Then on April 1st, 2011, during the 7th session of the 7th term of the Legislative Yuan, the 3 readings of the bill were completed. On April 20th, 2011, the President announced the establishment of the “Organic Ministry of Justice Agency Against Corruption Act”, and the Ministry of Justice Agency Against Corruption was officially established with the approval of the Executive Yuan on July 20th of the same year.
The process of establishing a specialized anti-corruption institution in Taiwan has spanned 30 years. Finally with the combined efforts of the ruling and non-ruling parties, the corresponding legislation process has been completed. The most important goals of the Agency Against Corruption are to fight and prevent corruption, and also integrate the efforts of all government employee ethics units in various government institutions to cure the root of corruption. We will strive to heal and cure both the symptoms and the roots of corruption, as well as to expand the scope of anti-corruption efforts. By learning from the clean government experiences of other countries, we hope to push forward efforts to allow whole society to participate in anti-corruption work by combining the resources and energy of businesses, communities, groups and schools as anti-corruption partners. The AAC will integrate the power of prosecution, investigation and government employee integrity institutions to fight corruption together. Aside from refining the corruption investigation process and helping government agencies to implement internal control mechanisms, we will also strive to place emphasis on anti-corruption measures and the participation of society. It is our hope to establish a strong resolve to fight corruption among the general public and to facilitate a strong national integrity infrastructure. With these efforts, we hope to make Taiwan a cleaner and more competitive country, realizing the government’s promise of protecting our home, improving the quality of life and striving for sustainable development.