Thu, Jan 04, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Parties slam NPA methods

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators yesterday slammed Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) for resorting to "paparazzi" law enforcement methods.

Speaking to lawmakers in the legislature's Home and Nations Committee, Lee defended the introduction of hidden cameras on roads and highways nationwide to snap photos of lawbreaking drivers.

The covert surveillance and photography measures went into effect on Monday and will be implemented throughout the year, Lee said.

The ministry's National Police Agency (NPA) said that as a direct result of the installation of hidden cameras, nearly 40,000 traffic tickets had been issued across the nation in the first two days alone of the crackdown on traffic violations.

The majority of the citations were issued in Taipei County, with running red lights and speeding comprising the lion's share of the violations caught on camera, the agency said.

"This is a common method of enforcement in developed democracies," Lee told lawmakers in reference to the widespread use of hidden cameras.

"What? You mean paparazzi police is common?" DDP Legislator Lin Yun-sheng (林耘生) asked.

Lin and DPP Legislator Chen Tsiao-long (陳朝龍) added that covert photography violated drivers' privacy, while KMT Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) said that a policy of hiding police by the roadside with cameras was a waste of vital resources.

"Well, the thinking out there among drivers is that they don't have to obey the law unless the police are around," Lee replied, saying that a dramatic increase in deaths and injuries on the nation's roads called for drastic measures.

With more than 20 individuals per 100,000 people dying in traffic accidents each year, Taiwan's roads are much deadlier than those of Japan or the US, where seven and 15 individuals per 100,000 people, respectively, perish in traffic accidents per year, Lee added.

"We need to reverse people's thinking that it's okay to break the law if there's no risk of getting caught. Hidden cameras help us do that," Lee said.

Responding to lawmakers' concerns over privacy, Lee commented that "as long as you're not doing anything wrong, there's nothing to be afraid of."

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