Wed, Jul 28, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Enforce order, reform the judiciary

One of the most intense gun battles ever between the nation's police and criminals took place in Taliao township in Kaohsiung County early Monday morning. Although two criminals were arrested, the prime suspect, Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘), and two other gang members managed to escape.

Later, we saw on TV how police confiscated arms and advanced equipment in the criminals' homes. According to reports, these criminals have received guerrilla warfare training in Cambodia. By comparison -- apart from their superiority in numbers -- the police lag far behind in terms of firepower and protective gear. Small wonder that the criminals managed to escape.

Chang's gang has been active in the south of the country for the last several years, gaining a fierce reputation. The gang's criminal activities bring to mind the 1998 kidnapping and murder of Pai Hsiao-yen (白曉燕) -- daughter of popular TV entertainer Pai Ping-ping (白冰冰) -- which caused rumors of emigration among wealthier members of the business community.

According to police data, an average of more than 80 kidnappings have taken place annually over the past 10 years. The victims of these kidnappings have been students and businesspeople. Such a high number of serious crimes every year is causing alarm bells to go off, due to the threat presented to the nation's social order.

To calm public opinion, police must quickly arrest the culprits and solve this case. More important, public concern is focused on the question of how the government will display its determination to effectively attack such crime and maintain social order.

On television we saw police take great risks when dealing with Chang and his associates. Despite the police's relatively inferior firepower, the spirit of self-sacrifice with which they carried out their duties deserves acclaim. But when we see the courts releasing criminals on bail who were captured with such difficulty by police -- giving them the chance to escape overseas -- we really have to say something in support of our hardworking policemen. The escape of Hsueh Chiu (薛球), wanted for a shooting, is an important example of this. There are other cases in which people charged with economic crimes have escaped abroad while on bail.

Social order is the basis of a society's economic development. Therefore, faced with the perception of increased lawlessness in our society, the government should order the coast guard, airport staff and customs officials at commercial ports and fishing ports to increase their vigilance regarding weapons and drugs smuggled into the country, and act to stop the flow of illegal immigrants from China, as these crimes easily lead to other crimes.

The government should also consider making substantial reforms to the judicial system, especially the much-criticized procedures for bail and parole. In addition, it should act quickly to improve the weapons and armor available to the police and make a greater effort to search out weapon caches and shops for customizing weapons to convince the public that it is serious about maintaining social order.

Otherwise, if people live their lives under the threat of crime and fear that whatever money they earn may eventually amount to nothing, then even if the government earmarks tens of millions of NT dollars to advance economic development, what will be the point?

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