President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday nominated Deputy Minister of Justice Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) as the nation’s top prosecutor, but the legislature is unlikely to approve the nomination until April, the Presidential Office said.
If approved, Huang would then be formally appointed by the president for a four-year term.
Huang has been nominated to succeed Chen Tsung-ming (陳聰明), who resigned last Tuesday after his impeachment by the Control Yuan.
The government watchdog voted 8-3 to impeach Chen, citing concerns over his “integrity” and “sincerity” in leading the Special Investigation Panel’s (SIP) investigation into alleged corruption involving former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
The impeachment was the second attempt by the Control Yuan after a motion by Control Yuan members Chien Lin Whei-jun (錢林慧君) and Lee Ful-dien (李復甸) on Jan. 5 to impeach Chen Tsung-ming failed.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) told a press conference that Ma decided to make public the nomination before embarking on a six-day visit to Latin America yesterday to prevent speculation.
Wang said the president’s selection of Huang was based mainly on his clean image, capability and professionalism. Wang said Huang has been ranked first in various polls conducted by the Prosecutors Reform Association and the Prosecutors Association, ROC (Taiwan).
Huang has also received much public recognition for his work during his stints as the chief prosecutor in district courts in Penghu, Chiayi, Taoyuan and Taipei, Wang said.
Huang has also gained a reputation as a man of honor who does not bow to power and influence. He has gained much experience in administrative affairs during his term as deputy minister of justice and interacted well with lawmakers, Wang said.
Wang said the president planned to forward the nomination documents to the Legislative Yuan, whose consent is required to confirm the appointment, on Feb. 1.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), however, told Ma during their weekly lunch at the Presidential Office yesterday that he did not think the president needed to wait that long, the spokesman said, adding that the speaker would consult with legislative caucus leaders on the matter.
Wang Yu-chi said it did not matter how early the president sends the document to the legislature, because lawmakers are unlikely to begin the nomination process until April. They will be preoccupied with hearing the report of Premier Wu Den-yi (吳敦義) and questioning him once the legislature reconvenes, the spokesman said.
Chen Tsung-ming was nominated by Chen Shui-bian in May 2006 and the nomination was approved by the pan-blued-dominated legislature in January 2007.
The nomination came after the pan-blue alliance used their legislative muscle to scuttle the appointment of Chen Shui-bian’s nominee, Hsieh Wen-ding (謝文定) in April 2006. Ma was Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman at that time.
The appointment marked the first time the state public prosecutor-general had needed legislative approval before assuming office, in accordance with amendments made to the Organic Law of Court Organization (法院組織法) on Jan. 13, 2006.
In the past, the post was nominated by the Ministry of Justice and then appointed by the president.
In response to the president’s nomination, Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) yesterday afternoon accompanied Huang to a press conference to answer questions.
Huang seemed happy about the decision but remained composed and chose his words carefully. He said he was grateful for the nomination and that if the legislature agreed with the president’s decision he would “give it his all.”
Wang Ching-feng expressed full support for the president’s choice.
“The new top prosecutor must be a disciplined figure to earn the respect of prosecutors,” she said.
The justice minister said Huang is the right candidate for such a position and trusts that if he becomes the top prosecutor, the public’s confidence in the nation’s prosecutorial system would be restored.
Huang declined to elaborate on details regarding personnel changes in the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s Special Investigative Panel, which is in charge of probing major cases. He said he was not in a position to comment on such issues, since the legislature has not yet approved the nomination.
The 60-year-old deputy minister is also the ministry spokesperson. He has more than 30 years experience serving in the nation’s judicial and prosecutorial systems.
KMT Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee said he preferred to consider Huang’s nomination in accordance with the evaluation results by the Association of Prosecutors.
Democratic Progressive Party spokesman Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said the party believed Huang had deep-blue political inclinations and questioned how the public could trust a prosecutor-general with such a background.
Tsai said the party would ask Huang to tell the legislature during the confirmation hearings why the judiciary has only investigated pan-green politicians about their use of their special allowances.
Additional reporting by Flora Wang and RICH CHANG
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