Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) yesterday morning said that it is necessary to educate fellow government officials about the unconstitutional nature of the March 19 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute (三一九槍擊事件真相調查特別委員會條例) while defending his decision to spend NT$2 million to publish 500,000 booklets on the ministry's arguments on the issue. Chen, however, abruptly changed his mind late yesterday afternoon and cancelled the publication of the literature.
In addition to Chen, the ministry's director of judicial training Lin Hui-huang (林輝煌) also represented the ministry at a constitutional court hearing on Oct. 27 and Oct. 29. Chen and Lin argued that the shooting committee's powers were too broad and unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court is set to render a two-pronged judgement on whether to suspend the shooting committee, and whether the committee is legal. While presenting his case in the court, Chen evoked the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to defend for his arguments.
"I am pretty satisfied as to how my co-workers have done in the hearings. I was merely presenting their work," Chen said. "We were good at the court hearings because my team is good."
In response to criticism that the ministry was squandering government money by publishing the ministry's position, Chen said that all the booklets were to have been published at facilities which use prison labor -- making the cost of each booklet about NT$4.
"We did all the work by ourselves. I do not think it is a waste of public funds," Chen said.
However, at 6pm yesterday, Chen changed his mind about the booklets and issued a five-line press release saying his plan to publish 500,000 booklets was cancelled, without any further explanation.
Prior to his sudden decision to back off the booklet idea, Chen was quoted as saying: "The well-organized arguments at the Constitutional Court will be shared with fellow government officials. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to read a classical legal argument."
In the meantime, the Council of Grand Justices is scheduled to announce on Dec. 15 whether the committee will be suspended. A date for a decision on the committee's constitutionality has not been set.
The suit against the shooting committed was filed on Sept. 15, by 93 pan-green legislators -- just a day after the committee came into existence.