Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Prosecutor nominee gets mixed reviews

HEARING WOES The president's pick for the nation's top prosecutor had a tough time during a legislative hearing designed to examine his credentials for the position

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Groups representating prosecutors failed to offer a ringing endorsement of Chen Tsung-ming (陳聰明), President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) nominee for the nation's top prosecutor, at a legislative hearing yesterday.

"My association does not believe Chen Tsung-ming is tough enough to be the nation's top prosecutor following his performance in the legislative questionnaire review last week and when looking at his record as a prosecutor," said Prosecutors Reform Association spokesman Chen Chih-ming (陳誌銘) at the hearing.

Chen Tsung-ming seems weak at resisting pressure, Prosecutor Chen added, before saying that his career record did not indicate he was an expert at probing serious cases.

He did say, however, that prosecutors from the association believed that if Chen Tsung-ming failed to take the position, the president might not be able to nominate a candidate better than Chen Tsung-ming, as there are few senior prosecutors qualified for the position.

Jeopardy

He added that if the position of prosecutor-general remained vacant for much longer, it could jeopardize the nation's democratic system.

Prosecutors think Chen Tsung-ming is an honest and sincere person who is able to communicate well and respects the opinions of other prosecutors, Chen Chih-ming said.

"A moderate top prosecutor allied with tough special prosecutors might work well," he added.

Head of the Prosecutors Association Chiang Kuei-chang (姜貴昌) said at the hearing that Chen Tsung-ming was an independent prosecutor able to resist political pressure.

Chiang said as chief prosecutor of Taipei District Prosecutors' Office during the 2000 presidential campaign, when the Ministry of Justice (then under the control of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government) asked Chen and his prosecutors to summon former People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) over his role in the Chung Hsing Bills Finance case (興票案) three days before the presidential election, a move which would have damaged Soong's reputation and impacted upon his electoral chances, Chen Tsung-ming, believing that prosecutors should remain impartial, refused to do so.

Lottery scandal

Chiang added that during the 2000 presidential campaign, when President Chen was accused of involvement in a lottery scandal, and some politicians asked the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office to publicly investigate the information before the election, Chen Tsung-ming again rejected the request.

Prosecutor Chen Chih-ming, Prosecutor Chiang Kuei-chang, and legislators including Chinese Nationalist Party legislators Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) and Kao Su-po (高思博) asked Chen Tsung-ming to respond to reports saying he had used friends from politics and business to lobby for his appointment, and this could damage the independence of the top prosecutor.

Chen Tsung-ming denied the accusations, saying he had never asked his friends to conduct any kind of lobbying.

Chen Tsung-ming is currently head prosecutor of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office, Kaohsiung branch.

He was nominated as state public prosecutor-general on May 26, after the president's previous nominee, head prosecutor of Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office Hsieh Wen-ding (謝文定), failed to receive the endorsement of a majority of legislators.

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