Playing to the public’s expectations that illegal lobbying in the judiciary be eliminated, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) resorted to extraordinary means to issue a moral judgment on Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘). This judgment is a vicious political attack in the guise of a moral stand.
Jiang made repeated comments on Wang’s case to the press, showing no respect for the Legislative Yuan, the legal source and monitoring body of the Cabinet.
As a professor of political sciences, he should have acted with caution and in accordance with the law by withholding comment on the affairs of the Legislative Yuan. Instead he followed Ma’s personal will, disregarded the government system and caused an uproar by forcing then-minister of justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) to resign. This shows that he cares more about his career than national interests.
As for Huang, despite his post as prosecutor-general, he actually distorted the law. Faced with questions about his own violation of the law, he offered no clear explanation, raising major questions about whether he is fit to serve as prosecutor-general.
It was a violation of the law when the prosecutor-general reported an individual case directly to the president. Even if Huang believed that it was necessary to uncover a legal violation that the Special Investigation Division (SID) learned about, he should have considered how appropriate it would be for him to become involved in the case.
Since the Council of Grand Justices have repeatedly highlighted the importance of legislative self-discipline, it seems inappropriate for the prosecutor-general to pass judgment on, or even investigate, the legislative speaker’s alleged improper lobbying.
If the SID wanted to start an investigation into the case, it should have wiretapped the telephones of Tseng and High Prosecutors’ Office Head Prosecutor Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌). Instead, Huang continued the wiretapping of Ker’s cellphone, believing that he might be involved in other cases. This seems to be a case of illegal surveillance.
Huang showed the court’s wiretapping warrant to the press on Sept. 9. He should disclose the timeline of the case so the legitimacy of the wiretapping can be determined. It is not even the SID’s responsibility to investigate cases of improper lobbying.
Huang said that “we all know very well” that corruption and illegal lobbying are mostly conducted behind closed doors, which means it is difficult to gather evidence. Without evidence, how could the prosecutor-general make any accusations? No wonder Wang also accused Huang of abusing his power.
Huang did not summon either Tseng or Chen in the case. If he was concerned about work ethics within the judicial system, he should have reported this to Jiang and asked for instructions. If he was afraid that the case might be covered up, he should have taken responsibility and conducted a strict internal investigation. Then he could have either sent the case to the Control Yuan or made indictments.
Huang claims that the criminal facts are clear without summoning all the parties involved, without understanding the details of the case and without taking into account the long-standing culture of political lobbying.
If this is how the justice system is supposed to work, the courts can all be closed down. Prosecutors are all that is required.
Chu Ping-tzu is an associate professor in the Department of Chinese Literature at National Tsing Hua University.
Translated by Eddy Chang