Tue, Apr 03, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Pan-blue lawmakers lash out at the justice minister

By Ko Shu-ling and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Pan-blue members on a legislative committee lashed out at Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林) yesterday, questioning the way he handled a personnel reshuffle of the judiciary and alleging the move was aimed at currying favor with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

Describing Shih as "audacious," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍), a member of the Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, called for his resignation and expressed suspicions that Shih's unprecedented move was politically motivated.

"I strongly suspect it is aimed at serving the administration and helping it get ready for the year-end legislative elections," she said.

Vice Minister of Justice Wang Tian-sheng (王添盛) dismissed the speculation, saying that wholesale personnel reshuffles also took place when Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) was justice minister.

Cho Wen-huai (卓文淮), a specialist in the ministry's personnel department, said that three major reshuffles were undertaken during Chen's stint, in 2001, 2003 and 2005.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said that Shih should step down and that he was curious to know why the ministry planned to hold another Prosecutors' Personnel Review Committee meeting tomorrow if it considered its decisions were legitimate.

Nine of the 17-member committee refused to attend the original personnel review meeting. They said their absence was meant as a protest against political interference in the prosecutorial system.

Another KMT legislator, Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) described Shih as a "butcher of Taiwan's democratic development" and said he would go down in history as a "blot on Taiwan's democracy."

Lai also criticized Shih's move as a means of fawning on the administration at the expense of judicial and democratic proceedings.

KMT Legislator Chen Chieh (陳杰) said that he believed the Presidential Office or Executive Yuan was part of the conspiracy and that he was willing to put his political career on the line.

Dissatisfied with the reshuffle, opposition lawmakers yesterday introduced an amendment calling for a limit on the justice minister's authority to transfer prosecutors-general.

KMT legislators Kao Su-po (高思博) and Joanna Lei (雷倩) told a press conference that they want to strengthen the power of the Prosecutors' Personnel Review Committee in determining transfers of prosecutors-general.

Under current regulations stipulated in Article 59 of the Law of the Court Organization (法院組織法), the justice minister is required to consult with the Prosecutors' Personnel Review Committee if he plans to make any personnel reshuffles in the prosecutorial system.

The KMT's amendment to the law suggested that the Prosecutors' Personnel Review Committee should have the final say about reshuffles proposed by the justice minister.

"We hope the amendment will be put onto the legislative agenda in [today's] Procedure Committee and clear the legislature as soon as possible," Kao said.

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