The pan-blue camp has been revitalized by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's (
Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (
However, as there still is no uniform definition for the nature of the mayoral allowance, and as the initial ruling is just the legal interpretation of the judge, Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen (
Although the ruling interprets the mayoral allowance as a subsidy, half of the receipts drawn on the allowance must still be verified and accounted for. This clearly demonstrates that these are not funds that mayors can spend on private expenses without any restrictions, use for non-official purposes or put into their pockets. Therefore, Tsai's interpretation is still debatable.
Saying Ma had no criminal intent because the amount of money he donated exceeded his special allowance conflates cause and effect. Most of Ma's donations were made after the special allowance scandal broke and were a measure to remedy his mistakes. Buying indulgences doesn't mean the sin was not committed in the first place.
Moreover, the court based its ruling only on a formal examination of the main documents in the case without looking into the true nature of the charges.
Ma has escaped punishment because he listened to his lawyer and insisted that he thought that the special mayoral allowance was a private fund. By doing so, he was able to stress that he never intended to misuse public funds.
But people who are not too forgetful might remember that at the outset of the case, Ma said in an interview that he was of the opinion that the special mayoral allowance was public money.
Of course the court cannot use statements made outside of the courtroom, but Ma has contradicted himself in and out of court.
Both Ma and Frank Hsieh (
If presidential candidates are placed under investigation, the fact that they are candidates means their ethical standards should be higher. Not breaking the law is the least that should be expected of them.
The judicial branch's monitoring of politicians can help ensure their honesty. The fact that a candidate is nervous before a verdict is handed down in his case shows that Taiwan's legal system is independent. In turn, this means that the nation has entered a new era and left the old days behind when the KMT leadership could say: "We own the courts."
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