Mon, Oct 06, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Throwing shoes and the culture of deceit

By Huang Di-ying 黃帝穎

On Sept. 26, Yen Ming-wei (顏銘緯), an 18-year-old student, hurled a book at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). The book written by George Kerr, was Formosa Betrayed. Yen said that he did it to express frustration with Ma’s autocratic ways. It was an example of political expression, part of everyone’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.

During a meeting of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Standing Committee a few days ago, Ma said that he would not sue the student “because he is the president.”

However, Yen had already been served with a subpoena when Ma made that statement. That means that the president was caught lying openly.

Worse still, National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞), in order to support Ma’s lie, stated at the Legislative Yuan that the subpoena sent to the student was ordered by the head of the Taipei Shilin District Military Police. However, that same evening Wang’s statement was discovered to be untrue.

The Military Police Command issued an official press release saying that Wang’s version of events was “absolutely not true.”

Had Ma been injured when the student threw the book, Yen might well have found himself charged with a criminal offense and punished accordingly, if found guilty.

Even if Ma had not sustained any physical injury as such, but felt that having Formosa Betrayed flung at him was injurious to his personal dignity, he still could have brought a criminal lawsuit against Yen, alleging “deliberate humiliation.”

However, this type of offense would — legally speaking — be a case of Antragsdelikt, or “no trial without complaint.” That is, if the plaintiff or alleged victim does not bring charges, the police cannot initiate an investigation.

In terms of being an incident which obstructed official business — a criterion that would need to be met to accord with the ruling by the District Court and the Taiwan High Court on an earlier “shoe-throwing” case, in which Ma was also the apparent target — there is a precedent establishing that Ma attending a social function is not carrying out his official duties as president.

If the person who threw a shoe at Ma could not be convicted of obstructing official duties, there really is no case to answer here, either — unless you count Wang’s evident contempt for the legislature and his wanton wasting of judicial resources.

This really is not rocket science. The alleged victim in this book-throwing incident was Ma. Ma did not sue, so the police have no reason to investigate.

However, even though Ma said he would not sue, a subpoena was still issued.

Wang, the head of the National Police Agency, lied in order to protect Ma, saying that the head of the Taipei Shilin District Military Police had called for the subpoena to be issued.

Both the president and a senior police officer were caught lying in succession, just because Ma was put out after a university student threw a book at him.

What has Taiwan come to?

Huang Di-ying is a lawyer.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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