Is it true that Ma got himself in this political bind because of his openness and transparency? If Ma’s inner circle is not full of the arrogance and political disingenuousness of the party-state mindset, then it has double standards in how it governs “by rule of law.” For example, it subjects anyone who disagrees with it to long-term surveillance. It readily accepts the necessary legal implications of any machinations it uses to target political adversaries. The party’s double standards and maintains surveillance of dissenters, so nobody was surprised when the allegations of the SID’s illegal wiretapping were revealed.
What lessons can be drawn from Ma’s indiscretions? The long-delayed political parties act — which has yet to make it to the legislature — needs to be passed and implemented. The laws that the president, prosecutor-general and legislative speaker were all so loathe to comply with — the Surveillance Act and the Information Act — need to be scrutinized again and revised by lawmakers.
Legislative autonomy and independence is one of the core principles of a constitutional democracy and the relationship between political parties and the legislature must be protected by the Council of Grand Justices’ Interpretation 331.
Perhaps this is Ma’s final contribution, made despite himself: Revealing the beauty of having a constitution.
Liu Ching-yi is a professor in the Graduate Institute of National Development at National Taiwan University.
Translated by Paul Cooper