President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday pledged to continue working on judicial reform in a steady manner, while promising not to interfere in individual cases.
In a meeting with members of the Action Alliance of Justices to Elect the Supreme Court Chief Justice, a judicial reform group drawn from serving judges, Ma said reform of the judicial system would not be achieved by holding conferences or passing regulations. Practical details, including the attitude of judges, would affect people’s feelings and trust in the system.
“My judicial reform will not only focus on fundamental aspects. We will also aim to improve the system at a practical level, including the public’s perception of the system,” he said.
Ma said he had kept his promise to never interfere in individual cases, adding that he had also stopped the practice of illegal wiretapping, but that there was still room for improvement in the judiciary and the government’s current reforms are a first step. He said future reforms would require gradual pressure to ensure implementation.
“Reform of the judicial system should proceed at a steady pace and I think judges are exercising more self-restraint ... As president, I will keep my promise not to interfer in individual cases,” he said.
In response to the alliance’s call for a change in the system that would allow judges to elect the president of the Supreme Court, Ma said the appointment should follow the regulations on judicial personnel.
“Judges and other members of the judicial system should be independent, but not isolated. It’s a good sign that judges are concerned about the issue and I will take advice from the alliance about the appointment into consideration and find a proper candidate,” he said.
Calls for reform of the system of appointing the Supreme Court president emerged recently after the Supreme Court was heavily criticized for a number of recent rulings.
The Supreme Court justices’ ruling that the lower courts should investigate to see if the child victim of an alleged sexual assault had “consented” to the act triggered a “white rose” protest movement against the justices, sparking criticism that the Supreme Court justices are completely out of touch with reality.
The alliance reiterated its call for an election of the Supreme Court president as the incumbent, Yang Jen-shou (楊仁壽), is scheduled to retire from the post next Friday.
Ma agreed that the president of the Supreme Court should not only be a role model for all judges, but also be able to respond to public concerns and social values when making judgements.