On Friday last week, a Supreme Court panel reviewed the case of a college professor who was convicted for depositing a National Science Council research subsidy into his private bank account — one of the many cases in which academics have been accused of defrauding the council and academic institutions by obtaining reimbursements under false pretenses. The court ruled that academics cannot be charged with corruption because they are not civil servants.
When professors falsely or fraudulently claim reimbursements from academic institutions, is it just a stopgap solution that they have thought up? Do they do it because they have no other choice? Is it a leftover from a system that made it impossible for them to carry out their research otherwise?
I do not propose discussing these questions. What interests me is the court’s decision that those who are not vested with authority as civil servants cannot face corruption charges.
All people are equal before the law, are they not? When former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), stand before the law, it is not a matter of supporting them or disliking them, is it?
Chen was president for eight years, but Wu, as first lady, never possessed the authority of a civil servant. That being the case, the charge of corruption should not be applicable to her, should it?
Then why did prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁) charge Wu with corruption on Nov. 3, 2006? Who can explain why, on Dec. 20 last year, the Supreme Court convicted Wu of complicity in corruption in the case concerning the second phase of financial reform? Surely it cannot be claimed that Chen was subservient to Wu and did whatever she said, because no one knows what went on between the couple in private.
Who can claim that if Chen indulged in corruption, Wu must have done the same? After all, a husband and wife stand before the law as two independent individuals. If that were not the case, how could President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), a former minister of justice, say that punishment is not to be inflicted on the wife and children of a convict?
Accordingly, in relation to any corruption case that took place during Chen’s tenure as president, the charge of fraudulently obtaining property under cover of legal authority, as described in the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例), clearly cannot be applied to Wu. If the authorities wanted to bring Wu to trial, they should have charged her with something other than corruption.
The reason Taiwanese have so little faith in the judicial system is because those responsible for enforcing the law often interpret it in contradictory ways. The result is that the judiciary is often manipulated, or concedes to being manipulated. Sometimes it does U-turns, and sometimes it shoots at random.
In such circumstances, how could anybody believe in the myth that everybody stands equal before the law?
Chang Kuo-tsai retired as an associate professor at National Hsinchu University of Education and is a former deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of University Professors.
Translated by Julian Clegg
Late last month, Beijing introduced changes to school curricula in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, requiring certain subjects to be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) seeking to gain from sending this message of pernicious intent? It is possible that he is attempting cultural genocide in Inner Mongolia, but does Xi also have the same plan for the democratic, independent nation of Mongolia? The controversy emerged with the announcement by the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau on Aug. 26 that first-grade elementary-school and junior-high students would in certain subjects start learning with Chinese-language textbooks, as
There are worrying signs that China is on the brink of a major food shortage, which might trigger a strategic contest over food security and push Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), already under intense pressure, toward drastic measures, potentially spelling trouble for Taiwan and the rest of the world. China has encountered a perfect storm of disasters this year. On top of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, torrential rains have caused catastrophic flooding in the Yangtze River basin, China’s largest agricultural region. Floodwaters are estimated to have already destroyed the crops on 6 million hectares of farmland. The situation has been
In 1955, US general Benjamin Davis Jr, then-commander of the US’ 13th Air Force, drew a maritime demarcation line in the middle of the Taiwan Strait, known as the median line. Under pressure from the US, Taiwan and China entered into a tacit agreement not to cross the line. On July 9, 1999, then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) described cross-strait relations as a “special state-to-state” relationship. In response, Beijing dispatched People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft into the Taiwan Strait, crossing the median line for the first time since 1955. The PLA has begun to regularly traverse the line. On Sept. 18 and 19, it
Midday in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 16, was sunny and mild. Even with the pandemic’s “social distancing” it was a perfect day for “al fresco” dining with linen tablecloths and sidewalk potted palms outside one of New York City’s elegant restaurants. Two members of the press, outfitted with digital SLR cameras and voice recorders, were dispatched by The Associated Press to cover a rare outdoor diplomatic meeting on one of these New York streets. American diplomat Kelly Craft, Chief of the United States Mission to the United Nations, lunched in the open air with Taiwan’s ambassador-ranked representative in New York, James