Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) yesterday proposed to freeze the operational funding of the Tainan District Prosecutors’ Office and the Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office, while Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers panned the idea as an illegitimate intervention in individual judicial cases.
Lu proposed to freeze the operational funding of NT$24 million (US$762,400) and NT$11 million for Tainan and Pingtung district prosecutors’ offices respectively during cross-party negotiations on the general budget.
The two offices are involved in cases involving KMT officials. The Tainan case involves a Tainan city council speaker being accused of quid pro quo corruption and the Pingtung case surrounds foul play during the Pingtung County commissioner election.
The KMT caucus refused to back down during the negotiations after the DPP raised doubt over the appropriateness of the proposals, DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said.
“The conclusion of the negotiation, in which the KMT caucus refused to withdraw the motion or reduce the amount posed to be frozen, was that the two cases would be put to a vote on the legislative floor,” Yu said.
“It is not difficult to imagine how that would turn out,” she added, referring to the fact that the KMT, with its majority in the legislature, would undoubtedly ram through the proposals.
The Tainan District Prosecutors’ Office is suspected of being placed under “undue political pressure” in its investigation in the bribery case of the Tainan city council speaker, “which was raised because certain party officials refused to respect the result of the council speaker election.”
In the case of the Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office, Lu said it was because the office “had been biased in its investigations, speedily detaining a suspect of a libel case before the election, while taking on a ballot-buying case involving 22 representatives only after the election, which was clearly in violation of the principle of proportionality.”
DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) castigated the move as “the KMT’s blatant attempt to try to repress the judicial system with budget power.”
“Is the KMT guilty of trying to obstruct the DPP’s call for state power to investigate DPP party members for suspected bribery?” Chen asked.
Calling Lu’s proposals “revenge” not for the allegedly biased investigation, but for Tainan District Prosecutors’ Office’s initiation and announcement of its investigation into the Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團) food scandals “when KMT lawmakers and the Ministry of Health and Welfare were still shielding the corporation a day earlier,” DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said the KMT, who got trounced in last year’s nine-in-one elections, has been harboring a grudge against the office since then.
Lu protested on his Facebook, saying the DPP was “confusing right with wrong.”
“Who is afraid when the DPP does not dare to have the district prosecutors’ offices and the Ministry of Justice report to the legislature [which is required of them in the proposals in order for the freeze to be lifted]?” Lu said.
Yu said that if abuse of prosecutions is to be reflected upon and corrected, “what should be done is a set of rules or a mechanism constructed that could be applied to every prosecutors’ office, which I have proposed in the legislature many times.”
“However, no positive response has even been provided by the Ministry of Justice,” Yu said.
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