Mon, Aug 20, 2007 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: Academics laud constitutional interpretation

POTENTIAL CRISIS There have been concerns voiced that a list of nominees for grand justices might experience the same problem as the list of Control Yuan nominees

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Lauding the Council of Grand Justices' recent constitutional interpretation on the legislature's refusal to review the Control Yuan member nominees list submitted by the president, academics said yesterday that the ruling has asserted the constitutional powers of the Control Yuan and made clear to lawmakers who boycot the review that they have crossed the line.

The Control Yuan, the nation's top watchdog empowered by the Constitution to investigate irregularities involving government employees under the nation's five-branch governmental framework, has been idle since January 2005, when the terms of its previous members expired.

Although a list of 27 candidates nominated by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was delivered to the legislature on December 20, 2004, the pan-blue-dominated legislature has prevented the Control Yuan nominees review from being put onto the legislative agenda in the Procedure Committee

The Council of Grand Justices last Wednesday issued Interpretation No. 632, in response to a request filed by pan-green lawmakers in 2005 asking it to rule on the constitutionality of the pan-blues' boycott in screening the nomination list.

The interpretation said that the purpose of organs of the state created by the Constitution is to fulfill their constitutional function and that they cannot be interrupted because of a personnel reshuffle.

If the president does not make nominations or the legislature refuses to exercise its power of approval, the Control Yuan becomes effectively dysfunctional and unable to perform its function, undermining the integration of the nation's constitutional system, which is not permitted by the Constitution, the interpretation said.

Chang Wen-chen (張文貞), an assistant professor of law at National Taiwan University, said the interpretation is positive in that it ensures the Constitution.

"It [the interpretation] sets up a clear baseline that the constitutional organs -- the supervisory system, the judicial branch and the independent prosecutorial system -- cannot be used as bargaining chips for political purposes," Chang said.

Chang said the grand justices had made it clear in the interpretation that pan-blue lawmakers had transgressed the principles of checks and balances and that of the separation of power by boycotting the list in the Procedure Committee.

Vested by the Constitution and its additional articles, the Control Yuan has the power to impeach or censure public functionaries working at the central and local levels. It may also propose corrective measures to government organs for improvement.

The Control Yuan can also exercise its auditing powers to supervise the budget expenditures of branches of the government and handle assets disclosures by public functionaries.

It's members can perform circuit supervisions and conduct investigations into cases referred to them from other branches of the government or ones they receive from the public. They can also take the initiative to investigate alleged illegalities within their terms of reference.

Over the past two-and-a-half years the number of cases pending at the Control Yuan has grown to 47,191, 16,323 of which were submitted by the public and the rest referred by other branches of government, officials said.

Some of the cases have been addressed by civil servants in accordance with measures implemented by former Control Yuan president Fredrick Chien (錢復), but a backlog of more than 24,000 cases remains because they can only be investigated by Control Yuan members, it said.

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