Wed, Aug 27, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Stop thinking like a vassal state

By Liu Ching-yi 劉靜怡

Some groups have put forward their own draft for a law to govern the supervision of cross-strait agreements. However, the governing and opposition parties, perhaps harboring dreams of holding power in a “super-presidential system,” have not shown much interest in the bill, and it has hardly moved forward through the legislative process.

However, two recent cases illustrate the urgency of setting up a system to monitor cross-strait negotiations, along with related judicial measures, and this cannot be delayed any longer.

The arrest of Taiwanese actor Kai Ko (柯震東) in Beijing on Aug. 14 for alleged narcotics use has exposed the extent to which Taiwan has become a vassal state with regard to cross-strait judicial matters.

Meanwhile, the case involving former Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) deputy minister Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), who said he was forced to resign, highlights political tutelage in the upper echelons of government.

Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with how various countries compare with regard to the rule of law and due legal process knows that China is widely considered to be one of the riskiest countries when it comes to safeguards for basic rights. The narcotics case involving Ko and Hong Kong actor Jaycee Chan (房祖名) is only the tip of the iceberg.

What it does make very clear is that Taiwanese officials have a very low sense of risk, and that their ability to respond falls far short of international standards. It also exposes the vassal-like attitude that they always take under the existing cross-strait judicial framework.

Countless Taiwanese who are in China doing business, working, studying or traveling, risk sharing Ko’s experience of getting arrested and detained for several days before their detentions are announced, and then being shown on national television confessing to whatever accusations they face, just as accused criminals used to be paraded through the streets, all in violation of their legal rights.

However, the council is accustomed to “reporting to superior officials,” quite contrary to the system of constitutional government, while sometimes contradicting the negotiators it dispatches to conduct cross-strait negotiations.

Up until now, aside from saying that it will “raise the matter with the Chinese side through the usual channels,” the council has not offered the public any remotely convincing solutions.

The council and the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau have been talking about how someone has intentionally leaked secrets and even spied for the Chinese communists. Chang was the lead cross-strait negotiator, having been specially appointed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). If the accusations are true, and if the person in question really was Chang, does the scandal not reveal that almost nothing has been achieved in terms of systems for risk management and supervision of negotiations for cross-strait agreements?

Within the establishment, this includes all sorts of administrative procedures and national security structures; it also includes monitoring from without by the legislature and civic society.

How can such a shocking breach in the legal system governing cross-strait negotiations be handled by rewarding the person in question by appointing him as chairman of a state-run enterprise? This case has given rise to grave doubts regarding the handling of cross-strait and national security affairs. How can one describe it when the authorities handle such a serious matter in such a way, other than a despicable mafia-like culture?

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