Sun, Dec 29, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Go with investigation, not recall

TSU lawmaker Su Ying-kuei (蘇盈貴) was probably happy to know the answer to his question: "Did the prosecutors and investigators fall asleep or die?" The answer is neither. As part of its efforts to investigate allegations of vote-buying in the Kaohsiung City Council speaker and deputy speaker elections, the prosecutor's office executed more than 40 raids during the past 2 days. It is too early to hail the prosecutor's office for a job well done because it remains unclear what evidence the investigation has turned up, but it is a step in the right direction.

At the same time, the KMT is intensifying its efforts to amend the relevant law, which prohibits a recall of a council speaker within one year of his or her election. While the KMT's desperation to catch its own fall is understandable, its efforts appear misdirected. It is questionable whether this amendment, in the long run would bring more good or more harm.

As much as the KMT may hope to undo its mistakes and as much as anyone may think the newly elected speaker Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄) is crooked, the raison d'etre for the said restriction remains. It is to prevent recall attempts fueled by party or personal vendettas from happening immediately after a speaker is elected, thereby preserving the council's stability.

It would be entirely at odds with accepted legal practice to amend the law and then have it retro-actively apply to Chu as the KMT and the PFP are proposing. Moreover, legislative efforts targeting specific individuals are questionable -- if not downright unacceptable -- to begin with.

While it was both morally and politically stupid and just plain wrong to cast votes for the scandal-ridden Chu in the first place, once he has been elected he is privileged with certain rights, such as the right to not be recalled for the wrong reasons. It is like before his or her wedding, one is entirely at liberty to choose whomever one wants to marry, but once married, at least according to Taiwan's law, one can't simply end the marriage unless either the spouse agrees or the spouse has done something wrong, such as have an extra-marital affair.

Of course, had Chu engaged in vote-buying, then strong reasons would exist to recall him. In fact, if his election is deemed illegal to begin with, there may not even be a need to recall him. This is exactly why a speedy investigation and trial of the case is badly needed -- to prove that Chu indeed engaged in vote-buying.

It is disturbing to see the KMT threatening to decline approval of the government budget at the Legislative Yuan unless the DPP cooperates with the amendment efforts. No less inappropriate is the KMT's accusation that the DPP would be providing a safe harbor for "black gold" if it refused to support the amendment.

If KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) is truly bent on salvaging the image of his party, he should start by axing some high-ranking party officials, namely himself, and possibly expel any KMT council member who is either prosecuted or seriously implicated in the Chu affair. After all, a political party must demand much more of its members than simple legality if it is to earn the trust of the people.

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