Minister of Justice Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) yesterday confirmed media reports that Prosecutor Evaluation Committee member Peng Wen-cheng (彭文正) is not included in the list of committee members who are to start their second terms next month.
The reports have sparked speculation that the exclusion was a move by the ministry to settle a score with Peng for his role in leading the 11-member committee to recommend that Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) be dismissed after a two-month investigation.
Huang is alleged to have leaked investigative findings to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) that were gleaned from wiretapped conversations and accused Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of lobbying the judiciary against appealing a breach of trust case against Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).
Asked about Peng’s exclusion, Lo said: “The nominating panel did not recommend his name this time. The justice ministry was not involved in the process. We can only choose the names from the submitted list.”
She denied that it had anything to do with political retribution.
However, many officials and legislators viewed the move as political meddling by the government and the ministry to remove opposition in the committee.
Ministry officials echoed Lo’s statement yesterday, saying that the list for second-term committee members had been reviewed and approved by the minister on Dec. 2, and that the extension of the members’ tenure has nothing to do with the result of the investigation nor the recommendations made by the committee against Huang on Saturday.
In response, Peng told reporters: “Judicial reform still has a long way to go in Taiwan. My tenure was not renewed for a second term and political retribution most likely played a role. Now I can go back to school and continue teaching.”
Convened in January last year, the Prosecutor Evaluation Committee has a two-year tenure, with members eligible to continue for a second term.
The panel is staffed by seven members selected from judges, prosecutors and law practitioners, along with four members representing public interests composed of experts and academics, such as Peng, a professor from National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Journalism. Peng acted as committee spokesperson in the investigation into Huang.