Sun, Jan 30, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Morley Shih's legal career marked by many successes

UP THE CHAIN Prior to being appointed the new minister or justice, Shih was a passionate prosecutor, bureaucrat and High Court judge

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

After devoting 29 years to the field of law enforcement, senior prosecutor Morley Shih (施茂林) has finally reached the top -- he's been appointed justice minister.

The naming of Shih to the post was announced by Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who will be sworn in as premier on Feb. 1. Shih will replace the current minister of justice, Chen Ding-nan (陳定南), and will take the minister's office along with his fellow Cabinet members early next month. Chen will return to his hometown of Ilan to campaign for the Ilan County commissioner election in December.

"The promotion provides new inspiration and challenges for me," Shih said. "In the future, my major job will be to keep people safe. In addition, we will keep working on a plan to abolish the death penalty, which is also the ministry's long-term policy."

Shih also said that a qualified prosecutor should know what he or she is doing and why.

"Being a prosecutor, you have to deal with a lot of sensitive cases from time to time, so you have to be very sensitive yourself," Shih said.

"When you make a mistake [in investigations], you hurt the image of all prosecutors -- not just yourself. You have to be extremely careful," he added.

Before he assumes the justice minister's office on Feb. 1, Shih is currently the vice justice minister, a position he assumed only last November. He is one of the most popular prosecutors in the nation because he enjoys "helping" his fellow prosecutors instead of "assigning" them.

At the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office where he worked for more than three years, Shih received praise from his fellow prosecutors. Shih was more like a teacher and father than a boss, former co-workers said.

"[Shih] often visited different offices and asked us whether we needed help ... he helped a lot when he had time. He even helped rookie prosecutors find a dorm room, which he really did not have to do," an prosecutor at the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office said on condition of anonymity.

Prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁), who is also the spokesman for the Prosecutors Reform Association (檢察官改革協會), said that Shih was selected as the "best candidate for the post as the state public prosecutor-general" in 2000 and last year by the association's members.

Currently, the justice ministry employs approximately 850 prosecutors, but two-thirds of them are members of the association.

"[Shih] was a prosecutor himself so he knows what a prosecutor needs," Eric Chen said. "His being appointed the new justice minister is really an encouragement to his fellow prosecutors."

Eric Chen also said that the most serious problem faced by prosecutors is a shortage in manpower.

"It has been a problem for years. Shih definitely knows how to solve the problem," Eric Chen said.

In addition to his relationship with prosecutors, Shih also established connections with the media, and has on occasion met personally with reporters in order to find out what the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office should do to improve.

"[Shih] is good at communications and negotiation," Eric Chen said. "It is a required personality trait for a justice minister."

Shih was born in Chiayi on Aug. 2, 1950. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in law from National Taiwan University, where he was classmates with now Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), in 1972.

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