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A Brief History of the Examination Yuan

The top priority of administering public affairs is "to put the wise and competent people in the right positions." Public servants recruitment system dated back to Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) in this country, when intellectuals joined the government service through fair competitions. Since then, selecting competent people through open and fair examinations has become a feature of the country's political system. The Five-Power Constitution, which is designed by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, our national founding father of Republic of China,contains the strengths of the traditional Chinese political system and those of the Western democracies by adding examination and control to the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial) of the West. On Oct. 1928, the ROC government promulgated the Organic Law of the Government of the Republic of China, defining the duties of the five Yuans (branches) of the government. In 1930, the Examination Yuan was established to take charge of holding national examinations and recruiting public functionaries as well as running the personnel system, laying a solid foundation for the country's civil service development. Over the past 90 years, the Examination Yuan has worked with the other four branches of the government - the Executive Yuan, the Legislative Yuan, the Judicial Yuan and the Control Yuan - to promote national development.

On October 10, 1928, the Nationalist Government appointed Tai Chuan-hsien as the President of the Examination Yuan, thereupon changing his residence at Piyang Alley in Nanking City into an organizing office and selecting then Kuanyueh Temple as the site for building the offices of the Examination Yuan which included the Examination Committee and the Ministry of Civil Service. Following that, the Nationalist Government promulgated the Organic Act of the Examination Yuan, the Organic Act of the Ministry of Civil Service, and the Organic Act of the Examination Committee respectively on October 20, 1928, December 7, 1928 and August 1, 1929. On January 6, 1930, the Examination Yuan and the two ministries under it - the Examination Committee (later transformed into the Ministry of Examination) and the Ministry of Civil Service - were formally established and this branch of government started to carry out its official duties. Examination Yuan President Tai Chuan-hsien (also Chairman of the Examination Committee), Vice President Sun Ke, Examination Committee Vice Chairman Shao Yuan-chung and Minister of Civil Service Chang Nan-hsien were inaugurated. In December of the same year, Tai was released from his side job as Chairman of the Examination Committee and Shao was appointed to that post. In July, 1937, Sino-Japanese War broke out, and four months later, the Examination Yuan moved to Szechuan Province along with the Nationalist Government. The Government stayed there until the end of the war, so the Examination Yuan returned to Nanking together with other government departments in 1945.

In 1947, the Constitution of the Republic of China was promulgated and its implementation began on Dec. 25. With that, the Organic Act of the Examination was amended and made public anew. On July 10, 1948, Chang Po-ling was inaugurated as Examination Yuan President; the first Examination Committee was also launched. In 1949, after the Nationalist Government moved to Taiwan, the Examination Yuan tentatively moved to the Confucius Temple in Talungtung,Taipei. In 1951, the Yuan settled in its current address in Mucha, Taipei.

Article 83 of the ROC Constitution stipulates that the Examination Yuan shall be the highest examination organ of the State and shall be in charge of matters relating to examination, employment, registration, performance rating, scales of salary (remuneration), promotion and transfer, security of tenure,commendation, pecuniary aid in case of death, retirement and old age pension.

As the Constitution had undergone several amendments between 1991 and 2005, Article 6 of the Amendment says The Examination Yuan shall be the highest examination body of the State, and shall be responsible for the following matters; and the provisions of Article 83 of the Constitution shall be temporarily suspended:

1. Holding of examinations;

2. Matters relating to the qualification screening, security of tenure, pecuniary aid incase of death, and retirement of civil servants; and

3. Legal matters relating to the employment, discharge, performance evaluation, scale of salaries, promotion, transfer, commendation and award of civil servants.

So, there have been some minor changes to the Yuan's duties.

The Examination Yuan was staffed by a president, a vice president, and 19 ministers without portfolio from 1st term to 12th term, each with a six-year term of office. Since the 13th term, the number of Ministers without portfolio is revised from 19 to between seven and nine, while their terms of the president, vice president and Ministers without portfolio are reduced from six years to four. Other staff members include a secretary-general and a deputy secretary-general whose main job is to assist the president in handling the day-to-day affairs. Under their leadership are ministries, departments, divisions, councils and offices, each with specific duties.

The Examination Yuan Council consists of the Yuan's president, vice president, seven to nine ministers without portfolio and chiefs of the various ministries and departments. The Council decides major policies and businesses as required by the Constitution. Two ministries and two commissions were set up under the Examination Yuan. The Ministry of Examination administers national examinations for civil servants and professional and technical personnel. The Ministry of Civil Service is responsible for the qualification screening, pecuniary aid in case of death, and retirement of public functionaries, as well as legal matters concerning their employment, discharge, performance appraisal, pay grading, promotion, transfer, commendation, and award. The Civil Servants Protection and Training Commission is in charge of policies and legal matters concerning the protection of civil servants' rights and interests, as well as giving courses on administrative neutrality and providing training for newly promoted public servants and those newly qualified through written examinations. The National Academy of Civil Service was set up under the Commission to facilitate the training of civil servants and the upgrading of their skills. The Public Service Pension Fund Supervisory Board is in charge of review, oversight, and evaluation of the civil service retirement pension fund. 

It has been more than 90 years since the establishment of the Examination Yuan, with Tai Chuan-hsien serving as its president for the first 20 years. Since the ROC Constitution was promulgated in 1947, the country has been 13 terms of Yuan presidents: Chang Po-lin (1st term, but he did not come to Taiwan, and the remaining 2 years was filled by Niu Yung-chien), Mo Te-hui (2nd and 3rd terms), Sun Ke (4th and 5th terms), Yang Liang-kung (5th term), Liu Chi-hung (6th term), Kung Te-cheng (7th and 8th terms), Chiu Chuang-huan (8th term), Hsu Shui-te (9th term), Yao Chia-wen (10th term), Kuan Chung (11th term, Kuan did not assume office until December 2008 as the Yuan's Vice President Wu Jin-lin was acting in that capacity up to November 2008) , Wu Jin-lin (12th term),and Hung jong-tsun(13th term).

Under the leadership of the past and present presidents, the Examination Yuan has made numerous changes to the civil service system in step with the times to meet the needs of the public. All these changes have been made in the spirit of building a modern and competitive civil service system that will constantly improve public well-being and ensure a sustainable development of the nation. The Examination Yuan will promote reform and innovation with the encouragement and supervision from all sectors of society to become an effective human resource department that can cultivate the talent a modern government needs.