President Chen Shui-bian should nominate a candidate qualified to fill the nation’s top prosecutorial post so the Legislative Yuan can confirm him or her as soon as possible, a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip said yesterday.
KMT Legislator Pan Wei-kang made the appeal at a news conference during which she announced the caucus’ set of rules for screening the qualifications of candidates for state public prosecutor-general.
As soon as the president asks the legislature to confirm his nominee for the top prosecutorial post, the KMT caucus will set up a screening task force and ask the candidate to provide specific information and documents to facilitate the screening, Pan said.
The nominee would be required to respond to a questionnaire covering issues such as freedom of speech, press freedom, human-rights protection and the concept that no details of judicial cases under investigation should be made public, Pan said, adding that the task force will host public hearings for academics and other experts to express their opinions on the nominee.
She said that when the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Organic Laws and Statutes Committee and Home and Nations Committee start a joint screening of the nominee’s qualifications, the task force will attend the whole screening process, and then present a report at a KMT caucus meeting to facilitate the caucus’ decision on whether to vote for the nominee.
If deemed necessary, the KMT caucus would conduct a straw poll among its legislators, Pan said.
The legislature rejected the nomination of Hsieh Wen-ting, chief prosecutor of the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office, in a vote on April 11, largely due to objections from KMT and other opposition legislators who expressed doubts about Hsieh’s willingness to fight government corruption in the wake of a series of scandals allegedly involving senior officials.
According to the legislature, the president has to nominate a candidate for the state public prosecutor-general’s post one month after receiving official notification of the legislature’s rejection of the previous nominee.
The president used to have full power to appoint a state public prosecutor-general. Under the newly revised Court Organic Law, the president’s nomination requires the legislature’s consent. The appointment must be approved by half of the legislators present at a session, with at least one-third of the 221-seat legislature in attendance for the vote.