Thu, Jan 25, 2007 - Page 3 News List

DPP committee pledges to push for interpretation

CAUCUS DECISION The party's Central Standing Committee said it would urge the president to act to prevent a `constitutional and national security' crisis

By Flora Wang and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

From left, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Hsieh Kuo-liang, Joanna Lei and Wu Chih-yang speak at a press conference yesterday in which they said any call by President Chen Shui-bian for a constitutional interpretation over his guarantee of presidential immunity would only be a politically motivated stalling tactic to delay the trial over alleged misuse of his ``state affairs fund.''

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) highest decision-making body yesterday agreed unanimously to urge President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to seek a constitutional interpretation of his authority to decide what constitutes a state secret.

"We reached the resolution because we all agreed confidentiality, which includes national security, should be safeguarded," DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun told a news conference after the party's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday.

A proposal was put forward by DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) during the meeting in opposition to the Taipei District Court's decision to open documents related to secret diplomatic missions in the "state affairs fund" case on Tuesday.

Earlier yesterday, Ker told a separate press conference that the caucus believed prosecutors and the court had come together on the case "to the extent that they were staging a `soft judicial coup.'"

The district court was in "asymmetric opposition" to the Constitution, which was likely to give rise to a crisis on a constitutional and national security level, he said.

"We strongly suggest the president file a constitutional interpretation application ... the president should not dodge his responsibility," Ker said. "This event concerns national security, not the president's honor. [The president] should not worry about any outside opinions, either."

The caucus also urged the president to ask the Council of Grand Justices to reach a ruling as soon as possible once the president had filed for an interpretation.

DPP Legislator Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢), who was at the news conference, said judicial power should play a "defensive" and "passive" role under the government structure which separates executive, legislative and judicial power.

He said the district court's ruling and prosecutors' attitude toward the case were damaging the balance between the three branches and might lead to a constitutional crisis.

A pro-independence political pressure group yesterday held a separate news conference, urging the president, the head of the Judicial Yuan and the Taipei District Court to seek constitutional interpretations from the Council of Grand Justices to settle the dispute over the case.

The Northern Taiwan Society also launched an online signature drive yesterday to support their cause.

"The move is not for the president, but for the country's democratic development," said society chairman Wu Shuh-min (吳樹民).

Alleging that the "state affairs fund" case contained 10 "serious flaws," Chet Yang (楊文嘉), the society's secretary-general, said the nature of the case was not an act of corruption, but "an extraordinary case resulting from the need for secret diplomatic missions, unhealthy budget and auditing systems and executive practices established during the authoritarian era."

As any judicial inquiry concerning the president is unconstitutional, the court hearing is bound to be biased and any result will mean a miscarriage of justice and lead to the collapse of the judicial system, he said.

Yang criticized the court and prosecutors for their "near sickly and stubborn" rejection of "executive privilege," the "state secrets privilege" enjoyed by the president and for adopting a suppressive approach,as used in a feudal society, to hear the case and keep the defense lawyers in line.

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