Amid concerns that judicial wrangling may escalate into a political storm, proposals have been made to resolve the controversies involving the president's "state affairs fund" and the Taipei mayoral special allowance through political means.
While President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who has been accused of graft, forgery and perjury in connection with the handling of Chen's "state affairs fund," could not be charged because of his presidential immunity, first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) was indicted earlier this month on a similar range of charges. Prosecutors have also questioned Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for the alleged mishandling of his special allowance fund.
In response to these events, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Yeh Yi-chin (
KMT and People First Party lawmakers have also advocated reforming the special allowance fund system through enactment of a special law to stipulate clear-cut regulations for the use of expense budgets by government officials.
With Judicial Yuan President Weng Yueh-Sheng (
Y.C. Kao (
"You can't simply paint the sky black to hide the crows," he said. "The public cannot pretend that nothing happened because all local chiefs embezzled money from their special funds."
When the government pursues civilians suspected of tax evasion or forgery with considerable enthusiasm, it doesn't make sense for the judicial system to let corrupt local chiefs off the hook, Kao said.
Instead of resorting to political means, Kao said the judicial system must get to the bottom of the matter.
"I'm not saying that they should all be convicted or go to jail, but the people have the right to know why so many government officials dare to pocket public funds and how the wrongdoing could be corrected and the system improved," he said.
The judge could lessen the sentence if the defendant can produce "appropriate reasons" to justify their illegal activities, Kao said, but the defendant cannot be exempted from any criminal responsibility just because he or she claimed ignorance of the law.
Kao said he believed Chen and Ma were not corrupt politicians but it was wrong to pocket public funds.
Kao said he thought it was a bad idea to enact a special retrospective law to resolve the controversy, but if the legislature or politicians insisted on doing so, they would have to brace themselves for the political consequences.
Allen Houng (