Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Public urged to call KMT lawmaker out over military reform

By Loa Iok-sin and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters

Civic group Citizen 1985 yesterday published Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Cheng-hsiang’s (陳鎮湘) office telephone numbers so the public can overload the lines to protest what the group said was his blocking attempts to revise the Code of Court Martial Procedure (軍事審判法).

In a posting on its Facebook page, the group said that while the proposal to transfer jurisdiction of some military criminal cases to the civilian judiciary during peacetime has been listed as a priority on the agenda at the ongoing extraordinary legislative session, amendments to the code “have been referred to cross-party negotiations, making it impossible to adopt any changes during the extra session, all because of Chen’s boycott.”

The group was referring to Chen’s opposition to the proposed revisions during a meeting of the legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

“You don’t trust the military courts today, you will not trust the civilian courts tomorrow, what judiciary are you going to trust?” Chen reportedly said at the meeting.

He was quoted as saying that the changes “would destroy the military” and that he trusts the military more than the Criminal Code.

Aside from urging the public to call Chen’s and the KMT caucus’ offices to voice their discontent and clog the phone lines, the group also demanded Chen apologize and resign, adding that if he refuses to do so, the KMT caucus should remove him by voiding his party membership.

When asked to comment yesterday, Chen dismissed the group’s claims.

He said he agreed that the proposed revision may help solve some problems, but that any changes should not interfere with the military’s training system.

“For example, if special forces training tactics can be deemed ‘abusive,’ how do we train our soldiers?” Chen said. “Do we want a military that is incapable of fighting?”

Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) panned the KMT’s vow to implement military judicial reform as insincere.

In a four-point address to a protest by tens of thousands on Saturday, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) promised that the Executive Yuan would push to allow cases of abuse in the military to be tried in civilian courts in peacetime.

The DPP caucus told a press conference yesterday that all legal cases in peacetime should be handed to civilian prosecutors.

Jiang’s pledge of a two-phase reform plan would not implement a complete reform of the military’s judiciary, DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said.

DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said there were two flaws in the current system: the coexistence of the civil and military judiciary, which violates the principle of judicial monism, and the Ministry of National Defense’s supervision of military prosecutors and courts, which contradicts the principle of separation of powers.

The KMT has come up with the two-stage plan to make sure the military judiciary will not be eliminated, Wu said.

Citing French writer Emile Zola, who said the idea of discipline undermines military tribunals’ capacity for fairness because for soldiers, discipline is obedience, DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said the military judiciary should not be independent.

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