Tue, Mar 21, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Taipei police stop triggers debate

By Ho Shih-chun, Wu Po-wei and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Taipei City Police Commander Chiang Tsu-pei speaks at a news conference yesterday in Taipei in response to criticism of the police from Council of Hakka Affairs Minister Lee Yung-te.

Photo: CNA

Hakka Affairs Council Minister Lee Yung-te (李永得) has sparked controversy by criticizing the Taipei City Police Department for stopping him at random and demanding that he show his national identity card.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Lee said he was stopped earlier in the day by police officers near a convenience store close to the Taipei Bus Station.

Lee wrote that he felt he was unlawfully stopped while he was out shopping and had refused to provide identification.

“This is unbelievable. I was just going to the convenience store to buy stuff and five or six police officers showed up, demanding my papers. When did Taipei become a police state?” he wrote.

The officers’ commander, Captain Chen Feng-sheng (陳豐盛), later on Sunday confirmed that Lee had been stopped, but said that his officers had made a lawful and appropriate stop.

A patrol observed a man in sandals at 3:40pm — later identified as Lee — who behaved as if he was “in a hurry” and gave them “sideways looks,” Chen said.

Deciding that the man’s behavior was suspicious, the officers stopped him to ask for his identification, which he refused, and then argued with them, Chen said.

After reviewing the officers’ body camera footage, it appears the officers had behaved politely and lawfully, Chen said.

Lee yesterday said that he did not mean to cause difficulties for the police, but the officers had failed to follow the Council of Grand Justices’ constitutional Interpretation No. 535, which forbids police from making arbitrary or random stops.

“I have a right as a citizen to question the police in a rational way and only wished the police would follow the law when they do their jobs, or I will not be the last one to be inconvenienced,” he said.

The police department was only making excuses for its misconduct, he said.

Police Commander Chiang Tsu-pei (姜祖培) yesterday said that officers are authorized to stop people with reasonable cause, but the department might review its standards for “reasonable cause” if the public feels that officers are not acting appropriately.

Taipei City Government spokeswoman Liu Yi-ting (劉奕霆) said the police had adequately explained the incident, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was in agreement with the police and the city fully complies with laws and regulations.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) deputy director of culture and communications Tang Te-ming (唐德明) said Lee should not have appeared suspicious.

“Why did the police not stop anybody but you? You should reflect on that,” Tang said.

Lee’s wife, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), yesterday defended him.

“No one brings an ID with them just to buy beverages at a convenience store. The police acted in a ridiculous manner,” she said.

Lee’s Facebook page has been flooded with comments, some supporting him and others backing the police.

Additional reporting by Lin Liang-sheng

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