Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) yesterday criticized Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) for defending the political rights of alleged criminal groups, which Lin said was an attempt to excuse the violence of the China Unification Promotion Party (CUPP), whose members were accused of assaulting students during a demonstration at National Taiwan University (NTU) on Sept. 24.
Following the incident, in which CUPP members allegedly attacked students protesting a controversial cross-strait music festival at NTU, the Cabinet has vowed to crack down on criminal activities organized under political parties and plans to impose legal measures to deal with such criminal activity.
Chiang on Friday said the Cabinet’s announcement violated the political rights of alleged criminal groups and infringed on the principle of the rule of law.
Chiang said comments by Premier William Lai (賴清德) and Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) suggested that they did not understand democracy and the rule of law.
He criticized Lai for saying that “everyone has their criteria” to determine what a criminal ring is and Yeh for saying that a new law should be drafted to prevent organized crime groups from infiltrating politics, as law enforcement had lost a legal tool when the Gangster Prevention Act (檢肅流氓條例) was declared unconstitutional.
“Criminal activities can be punished under existing laws, but political rights are basic human rights and should not be determined according to a person’s background or political orientation. Minister Yeh’s comments clearly show that he misunderstands democracy,” Chiang said.
“Who decides on the definition of an organized crime group? Premier Lai or Minister Yeh?” Chiang asked.
The act was found unconstitutional because its definition of gangsters was too broad, identifying people who are “unethical, wandering on the streets or abominable” as possible gangsters, and Yeh’s and Lai’s statements were similar to the act’s willful definition of criminals, Chiang said.
The government has to uphold the basic nulla poena sine lege principle that one cannot be punished for doing something that is not prohibited by law, he said.
Chiang does not understand crime prevention, Lin said.
“The question is not whether criminal groups have the right to get involved in politics, but whether their political participation is criminal, or whether these groups are using the shell of a political [party] for criminal purposes while seeking the legal protection given to a party,” Lin said. “[Chiang’s] open defense of CUPP members assaulting an NTU student with a baton is gangster behavior.”
“The use of batons and smoke grenades is not unusual in violent incidents [associated with certain political parties]. Taiwanese know this well and it cannot be explained away easily,” Lin said.
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