The elder sister of Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), the army corporal who died earlier this month after he was allegedly subjected to excessive disciplinary punishment, said officials “were incapable of understanding what we [the Hung family] were trying to tell them.”
Writer Chang Ta-chuen (張大春) also condemned President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in a post on his Facebook page on July 22, reading: “Scum is ruling the nation.”
Hung’s case shows that the incompetent leader has already abandoned the moral high ground.
After the case was made public, Ma remained caught up in consolidating his power, campaigning for another term as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman. He completely disregarded the symbolic significance of being head of the state, a symbolism that has existed since antiquity. A president should be a symbol of morality and justice, and should work to earn the public’s admiration.
Without the participation of an impartial third party in the investigation into Hung’s death, it is unlikely that justice will ever be served.
When controversial cases like Hung’s arise that leave room for interpretation, it is time to take the initiative on moral dilemmas. Laws can be amended, meaning that laws are not the supreme arbiter of justice.
However, Ma responded to the matter by saying the case would be tried in accordance with the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法) and related military laws, during a visit to the Hung family, in a classic knee-jerk evasion tactic that one expects from such a reprobate.
To stand on the moral high ground, Ma needs to take the moral initiative so the law can serve justice. When dealing with a controversial case, he should hold up the banner of justice clearly and definitively to demonstrate his worth as head of state. Only scum would do the opposite and demand that the law be adhered to unconditionally, even if it means sacrificing morality and justice. This principle applies not only to Hung’s case, but also the forced demolitions of houses in Dapu Borough (大埔), Miaoli County.
From a legal viewpoint, Ma seems equally unaware that the president should approach controversial cases from the highest constitutional level and chose instead to behave like a lawyer.
As Constitutional Interpretation No. 436 states: “It shall not be interpreted that military tribunals have exclusive jurisdiction upon the crimes committed by active-duty soldiers, and the initiation and operation of military trial is within the power of punishment of the nation.”
Under the five-power constitutional framework, Article 77 of the Constitution states: “The Judicial Yuan shall be the highest judicial organ of the state.”
However, the amendments to some military laws made in line with the interpretation fail to fully comply with the intention of the interpretation. As a result, the military judicial system has turned into a “sixth power” external to the system of government. Since they are against the spirit of the Constitution, why can the laws not be amended again?
Both the ruling and opposition camps are now planning to propose amendments to military laws regarding the military judiciary. The Democratic Progressive Party proposes that crimes committed by soldiers be tried by the civil judicial system in peacetime. This is the correct action.
If Ma has no intention of taking the moral initiative in the face of Hung’s death, if he blocks the proposal and refuses to exercise his presidential powers to amend the unjust laws in accordance with the constitutional interpretation, then the public will have no choice but to revolt.
Christian Fan Jiang is deputy secretary-general of the Northern Taiwan Society.
Translated by Eddy Chang