Tue, Nov 13, 2007 - Page 8 News List

The SID should be above politics

By Lin Yu-shun 林裕順

The Supreme Prosecutor's Office's Special Investigations Division recently launched an investigation into the increases in commodity prices. Legislators have criticized the probe as "performing a minor feat with unnecessarily great effort."

Since Taiwan drew upon the blueprint of Japan's Special Investigations Department (SID) in establishing the division, there is a need to learn from its investigative experiences and how it developed.

The historical impetus for the establishment of the Japanese SID at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office in 1949 was the Showa Denko KK corruption scandal.

The corruption was a result of government, economic and social bodies failing to modernize with sufficient speed after World War II.

This case touched not only upon the government's central administration and the illegal finances and donations of tycoons, but also the internal power struggle in the US military stationed in Japan.

A novel by Matsumoto Seicho vividly describes how Japan's system at the time allowed government and businesses to engage symbiotically in corruption, as though shrouding Japan in a "black mist."

The historical development and administrative operations of the Japanese SID show that it was created to emphasize independent investigation in the hopes of establishing an impartial and autonomous process. The SID has been characterized by its exposure of the collusion between government and businesses, which strikes at the dark core of authoritarian power and capitalist society.

In Japan, prosecutors have a 99.9 percent conviction rate. The SID is known as Japan's most powerful investigative organization, having brought political figures and tycoons to heel regardless of the enormity of their influence.

Taiwan's SID, established under the Supreme Prosecutor's Office rather than under the Public Prosecutors Office, reflects the public's desire for the division to penetrate the "black mist" like the rising sun.

Hence the division's most urgent agenda should be the establishment of its autonomy from political influences, pan-blue and pan-green alike, and the raising of public confidence in order to gain popular support.

It should not be beyond the police and prosecutors to investigate the current crisis over soaring commodity prices.

Like the invincible blade in Jin Yong's (金庸) novel The Heaven Sword and the Dragon Saber, the SID must operate with precision.

Lin Yu-shun is an associate professor at Central Police University's Department of Criminal Investigation.

Translated by Anna Stiggelbout and Ted Yang

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