Former premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) published an opinion piece in the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday condemning the Executive Yuan’s dropping of charges against the Sunflower movement activists.
The Executive Yuan on Monday said that it was dropping all criminal charges against the students who stormed its compound in Taipei in 2014 during a protest against a proposed service trade agreement with China.
Jiang, who was the premier at the time, said in the opinion piece that the dropping of charges “clearly demonstrates that this incumbent government is one that has only politics, but not right and wrong, in mind.”
“The decision might not have come as a surprise with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) being sworn in, but Premier Lin Chuan (林全) grounded the decision in the belief that [the storming] was a political problem, rather a legal one ... It will be hard for a culture of rule of law to take root if the nation is led by a government that prioritizes political considerations,” he wrote.
“The Sunflower movement was one of the [nation’s] biggest social movements in recent years. When the protesters stormed into the Legislative Yuan, society was shocked, but was also to some extent sympathetic to it. However, the radical forces of the movement attacked the Executive Yuan, broke through barricades set up by police and wrecked public offices, which completely overstepped the boundaries of a democratic demonstration and violated the movement’s original call for rationality and peace,” Jiang wrote.
He said the movement’s leaders had “self-aggrandized the movement as a revolution against dictatorship,” which had further weakened the country’s democratic culture of rule of law.
“If any group can occupy the legislature and the government, intimidate the media, paralyze traffic and the general public’s daily life just to uphold their different political ideas, it is definitely not the kind of democracy that Taiwan is after,” he wrote.
“I was once asked how I could support the ‘red shirt’ army led by Shih Ming-te (施明德) [in 2006], and also support police’s eviction of the Sunflower protesters from the Executive Yuan. The answer is simple: The red shirt army anti-corruption movement from the beginning to the end followed the rules of civil rallies. Even though the number of red shirt protesters was more than double that of the Sunflower ones, the former did not storm into the Presidential Office Building,” Jiang wrote.
Lin’s dropping of criminal charges immediately after he took over showed that the DPP wishes to “pay the movement back for its contribution to the DPP’s return to power and to continue to call for the support of radical forces,” Jiang wrote.
Jiang said that it should not be the Executive Yuan’s call to drop charges, which should have been left to the court for a just judgement, adding that the “arbitrary determination of what is political and what is legal” would leave Taiwan no peace.
Asked about the opinion piece, Executive Yuan spokesperson Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) said the Executive Yuan “respects former premier Jiang’s remarks.”
New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), who was one of the Sunflower movement’s leaders, said Jiang and former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) are the “last ones who should have any complaint,” because all the Executive Yuan has done is acknowledge the mistakes it had made.
Huang said Jiang had been involved in former prosecutor-general Huang Shih-ming’s (黃世銘) illegal leakage of confidential information to Ma during the latter’s political feud with then-legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), and approved former KMT legislator Chang Ching-chung’s (張慶忠) 30-second passage of the service trade agreement with China.
“Taiwan’s rule of law was seriously damaged by the Ma-Jiang institution’s violations of laws and abuse of power. Jiang cannot suddenly become the guardian of the rule of law after publishing this article. It is simply ironic,” Huang Kuo-chang said.
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