As soon as Chang declared that the agreement was to be sent directly to the plenary session, Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) thanked the legislature for all the hard work it had done.
The executive branch was clearly helping Chang bring the review to a close. The behavior of the governing party caucus in the legislature on this occasion was a clear and blatant example of how the government views it as a law-making body subservient to the Cabinet — there simply to enact the legislation that the government wants.
It is widely acknowledged that there have been palpable material defects in the way the review of the agreement has been carried out. That much is not up for debate.
Any normal constitutional court, based upon the meaning of Interpretation 342, would proclaim it null and void. However, since the opposition has made no move toward seeking a constitutional interpretation on this, it appears that it has lost all faith in the Council of Grand Justices.
This is hardly surprising, as the council only came out with its Interpretation 718 on March 21, an interpretation that finally ruled as unconstitutional the requirement that organizers of a rally called in response to a sudden event must first obtain a permit.
The council has been rather reticent in protecting human rights and has been too willing to serve the interests of the authorities. It is because of this reticence that a full 16 years after Interpretation 445 on the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), long after the end of the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion (動員戡亂時期) and the lifting of martial law, and as recently as two weeks ago, the law still retained the ex ante assembly permissions system — or system of prior approval — and that this system had yet to be deemed unconstitutional, even though as early as 2008, during his first presidential election campaign, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) undertook to change the permit system to a registration system.
This is just another concrete example of blatant complicity of the judiciary, following on from how the executive and legislative branches conspired together with their handling of the service trade agreement review.
It is no wonder that the public felt the need to take to the streets and occupy the legislature, even though they would be violating the Assembly and Parade Act.
The public have witnessed the making of this particular sausage, and no, it has not been pleasant viewing.
There is another session in the offing, the regulations the Judicial Yuan is drafting governing lay judges in reviews, for which it is refusing to listen to the opinions of judges or experts.
It is another example of a branch of government resisting democracy while purporting to further its cause.
Chien Chien-jung is a judge.
Translated by Paul Cooper