Legislators across party lines have accused National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) of overreaching his authority and acting like an “underground president” when he visited the National Police Agency (NPA) to sit in on a report on Friday following a visit to the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau on Wednesday.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said the legality of King’s visit depended on whether there were precedents and if his rights as secretary-general sanctioned such visits, adding that King was overreaching if such visits were outside of his purview.
KMT Legislator Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) said no harm was done if King wished to get to understand the duties of the bureau, but added that the systemic difference — the NSC is an organ of the Presidential Office, while the Investigation Bureau falls under the Executive Yuan — is not conducive to such visits.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said King’s actions have confirmed that he is in fact the “underground president.”
The NSC has no administrative powers, and is not directly in charge of the NPA or the Investigation Bureau, he said.
“The NSC secretary-general is simply an advisory unit and no one, not even the Presidential Office secretary-general or former NSC secretaries-general, has such powers,” Chen said, adding that King’s actions may be unconstitutional.
DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said King’s actions would only muddle the system.
Meanwhile, senior bureau officials, who declined to be named, said they could not recollect any precedent of the NSC secretary-general and the National Security Bureau (NSB) director inspecting the Investigation Bureau, adding that the visit was not appropriate.
The NSC is not a direct supervising unit of the Investigation Bureau and should not intervene in its handling of intelligence, sources said.
Citing similar incidents where former NSC secretary-general Hu Wei-chen (胡為真) had been criticized for “disrespecting the system” when he attended a news meeting at the Investigation Bureau, sources said King had overreached his authority and broken the chain of command in the nation’s intelligence units.
Presidential Office spokesperson Ma Wei-kuo (馬瑋國) referred reporters to the NSB for response, by quoting the bureau as saying that the visit was in accordance with King’s legal responsibility to “visit units with the same responsibility as intelligence gathering agencies” and receive reports from them.
The visit was an effort to better understand the general status of national security intelligence-gathering and not to intervene in the everyday operations of the agencies, she quoted the bureau as saying.
However, detractors said the National Security Council Organization Act (國家安全會議組織法) stated that the NSC secretary-general was a close adviser to the president in matters of national defense, diplomacy, cross-strait relations and other national affairs, but had no legal justification for intervening in the organizations’ operations.
NSC officials may need to have certain channels through which they receive information pertinent to their jobs, but they should not reach over the line, sources said, citing former secretaries-general Su Chi’s (蘇起) and Jason Yuan’s (袁健生) conduct as examples of passive interaction between the NSC and the Investigation Bureau.