What you need to know
Taiwan's political parties have long called for the abolition of the Control Yuan and Examination Yuan. What purposes do these two government branches actually serve?
The Kuomintang (KMT) does not have much to show for its occupation of the legislature at the end of June. Within 24 hours of taking the chamber, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) slashed the chained doors at the entrance and returned the parliament to normal order.
The KMT’s main grievance was President Tsai Ing-wen’s nomination of Chen Chu to lead the Control Yuan, one of Taiwan’s constitutionally mandated government branches. Though failing in their immediate goals, the KMT’s stunt has rekindled attention to long standing debates in Taiwan on the very existence of Control Yuan and another government branch, the Examination Yuan.
Taiwan’s political parties have called for the abolition of the Control Yuan and Examination Yuan. The DPP in particular has been committed to dissolving the two Yuans for a long time.
But they continue to exist. Nominations are submitted as required by the country's constitution. The constitutional amendments are endlessly delayed.
Although the KMT is now criticizing the DPP for not doing enough to abolish the two Yuans, this is a change in tune for the KMT. Former DPP legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said in 2014, that then majority-KMT had blocked his proposals to amend the constitution 14 times.
The DPP hasn’t pursued the issue that hard since coming to power in 2016. No serious efforts have been made to secure support from different parties to reach the threshold of three quarters of the legislature to amend the constitution, leaving the two Yuans intact.
Origins of the two Yuans
The Examination Yuan is responsible for the country's civil service examination and employment matters and placement, while the mission of the Control Yuan is to monitor the performance of government bureaus and public servants. The Control Yuan has the power to impeach all public officials, including the President and Vice President.
Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, was influenced by the separation of powers governing philosophy. But he sought to go beyond the United States’s formula of executive, legislative, and judicial branches by conceiving an Examination Yuan and a Control Yuan, both derived from Chinese political thought and practice. They were not established until after Sun’s death, when the KMT took power in China in 1928.
The two Yuans were brought over to Taiwan with the KMT. Taiwan is the only country in the world with such a system in its constitutional order.
They are not large institutions. The Control Yuan has 29 members and the Examination Yuan has 19, all of whom are appointed by the president and approved by the legislature.
Should the two Yuans be abolished?
Advocates for the abolition of the two Yuans say their seats are filled with cronies and fat cats.
“Many people are disgusted by the fact that Examination Yuan members earn outside income, even though their annual salary is NT$2.7 million [US$91,198], and if promoted to the board of examiners, members receive an extra NT$700,000 on top of their salaries,” said TPP caucus whip Lai Hsiang-ling during her inquiry.
Many Taiwanese academics seek to be ensconced as a committee member. Members of the two Yuans are paid about NT$190,000 (US$6,450) a month, commensurate with a government minister. Legislators in the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) and the New Power Party (NPP) have pointed out that many committee members hold extra jobs like teaching at universities in China.
Besides the patronage for political loyalty aspect of the two Yuans, they are criticized for not fulfilling their purpose. The Control Yuan should be a government investigator, an independent, corrective force against corruption. But many of its members are close to the ministers they are supposed to monitor.
As for the Examination Yuan, many think that there is no need for the body to exist, given that its functions overlap with those of other institutions, including the executive branch.
There is popular support for change. An online poll by Now News shows that almost 50 percent of nearly 1,600 respondents agree the two Yuans are ineffective and should be abolished, while less than 40 percent believe that it would be better for the country to maintain its five branch system.
TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty, Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)
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