The Liberty Times Editorial: Ma should listen to his own words

Sat, Oct 12, 2013 - Page 8

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has the responsibility to represent Taiwan to other countries and he should act according to the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution to improve living standards here. However, since Sept. 6, Ma has been breaking the promises he made.

As governing has worsened, economic depression has set in, the lives of poor people have become harder by the day, unemployment among young people continues to rise and other social problems continue to increase, Ma became personally involved in a power struggle by manipulating the constitutional and judicial systems. This has thrown the government into chaos and has seen government departments that should serve the public come to an almost complete standstill.

Meanwhile, Ma has not showed any sign of changing his ways or remedying the situation. If he continues to ignore his duties, he should resign from the position he is no longer fit for so the nation can retain a thread of dignity.

On Sept. 11, before the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Disciplinary Committee revoked the party membership of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Ma delivered a seven-minute-long speech — a speech that he should apply to himself. Ma said that no Taiwanese could accept the way Wang avoided answering questions about his alleged illegal lobbying, neither making any response to it or offering any apology for it.

Ma also said that regardless of how good a relationship he may have with Wang, there is no way he could just sit by and watch the legislative speaker engage in blatant tampering with the judiciary, nor could he sit by and allow Wang to insult the KMT.

However, if Ma’s words were applied to himself and we accept that interfering with the judiciary is a much more serious problem, then Ma’s position as president should be immediately revoked.

On Oct. 2, Ma — indifferent to the fact that the public expects him to be busy governing the country — spoke to the media again. What he said had nothing to do with important issues like what steps could be taken to improve the quality of life. Ma was concerned with one thing and that was how he was preparing himself to appear as a witness in the wiretapping and leaking case involving the Special Investigation Division (SID).

Throughout the interview, Ma revealed how over the days beforehand he had engaged in even more improper handling of evidence related to the Wang allegations. His remarks once again seriously damaged the respect and trust a national leader should have and filled most people with regret.

Ma admitted that in regards to the allegations involving Wang and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), he not only met with the prosecutor-general twice, but that on Aug. 31 he also met with Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) to discuss the issue.

At that time, the investigation into Wang was still ongoing — it was not closed until Sept. 5. As such, the prosecutor-general clearly acted against the principle of confidentiality in an ongoing investigation. Not only did a leak did take place, it was a considerable one.

Ma also admitted that from Sept. 6 through Sept. 28, he spoke with the prosecutor-general several times over the telephone, but said he had forgotten the exact number of times they talked. They must have spoken on several occasions if Ma cannot remember the exact number.

The president says that he asked why the prosecutor-

general did not personally hold the first press conference in response to the matter. Such details are only for people who want to manipulate things. For the nation’s leader to ask about transcripts and targets of wiretapping shows that he was not just asking about the case out of concern, but was trying to launch a political vendetta against the legislative speaker.

If this does not mean that Ma manipulated our judiciary using illegally gained information, or that he has not endangered constitutional order through interfering with the legislature, then what has he done?

Reporters also asked Ma how he felt about being called as a witness by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office. This question was redundant because Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 627 offered an explanation in 2007 when it was released. The interpretation states: “Presidential criminal immunity does not extend to the evidentiary investigation and preservation directed at the president for a criminal case involving another person.”

Ma had no choice but to accept the request from the prosecutors. The only difference between Ma and a member of the public is that when a president serves as a witness in a criminal case, the regulations stipulated in Article 304 of the Code of Civil Procedure (民事訴訟法) are applicable.

It states: “Where the witness is the president of the country, the examination shall be conducted at the witnesses location.” This is only done to show respect to the president.

Everyone is paying close attention to the allegations against Wang. The only way for public trust to be restored in our judiciary is for the prosecutors to treat it just like any other case and to find out, using due process, why the prosecutor-general personally reported on a case under investigation, why the president met with him, why the president made details of the case known to others and why he conspired to use the information as ammunition for a political vendetta. This is the least that can be asked of the prosecutors.

However, laws cannot solve the problem of the national leader treating the Constitution as if it were his own personal plaything. This is about principles and is something that no Taiwanese can afford to ignore.

It is also about a president no longer fit for the job. Failure to mete out punishment would be tantamount to tacitly consenting to people trampling all over the judiciary. Ma has made comments along these lines himself in the past about other people. Perhaps Ma can now reflect on how these things relate to him.

Translated by Drew Cameron