Court rulings suspending a freeze on Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) assets drew fire from civil rights advocates and politicians yesterday, with calls to include “transitional justice” on the agenda of next week’s national policy conference on judicial reform.
“The courts have proved to be more than just a stumbling block — they have become an accomplice in hampering transitional justice,” Taiwan Forever Association secretary-general Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) said, criticizing administrative court rulings to suspend the freezes imposed by the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee.
Kao has served as a legal counsel to the committee, including work on the cases that were suspended.
The committee’s decision to freeze assets was appealed by the KMT on grounds that the action would severely limit its operations and require the dismissal of hundreds of employees.
“The key test for suspending implementation of a government order under the Administrative Appeal Act (訴願法) is urgency and irreparable damage,” Kao said. “It is difficult think of the freeze as causing irreversible damage, because losses would have been monetary and there is lots of money in the national treasury to pay compensation if the government were to lose its lawsuit to confiscate ill-gotten assets.”
He called for the inclusion of transitional justice as a topic at the national policy conference on judicial reform, including a proposal to remove Martial Law era judges.
New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) echoed Kao’s call, saying that “structural problems” of the judicial system should be fixed.
Hsu said that the legislature should pass a bill to promote transitional justice as soon as possible, as the NPP caucus has urged the Democratic Progressive Party-led legislature to do.
The committee should not be the only government agency in charge of issues concerning transitional justice, Hsu said.
Social Democratic Party (SDP) National Committee member Miao Po-ya (苗博雅) said that the Supreme Administration Court was using freedom of association as an excuse to protect the KMT’s access to its assets.
“All the other opposition parties think that this is an unbelievable bit of democratic logic, because our rules of survival dictate that if our membership fees and government subsidies are not enough to cover our expenses, we are responsible for raising more funds,” Miao said.
More than NT$90 million (US$2.9 million) in unfrozen cash assets reported by the KMT in court statements would cover SDP operations for years, she said.
Court findings that the unfrozen funds were insufficient because they would not cover all expenses and personnel costs are absurd, Miao said.
“Individuals cannot use a mortgage and a car loan as an excuse to rob a bank, but the court has allowed the KMT to say in essence that it can continue to use illicit revenue because its expenses are huge,” she said.
“The KMT’s vast assets allow it to earn hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars without lifting a finger or doing anything to gain the support of voters,” Miao said. “If it lost all of its members and no one gave it any donations, it would still have all of this money — is this really the kind of party our democratic constitutional system needs to maintain healthy competition?”
Additional reporting by Yang Chun-hui
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