Tue, Jan 30, 2018 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Chen eyes fair fight against ‘dinosaur judges’

Newly sworn in Control Yuan member Chen Shih-meng, who reported for duty yesterday, in an interview on Friday told Chinese-language ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporter Chung Li-hua that he would focus on three types of ‘dinosaur judges,’ namely those who bend the law to punish pan-green camp politicians, shield pan-blue camp members and protect the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) illegally acquired assets

Control Yuan member Chen Shih-meng talks to reporters after being sworn in in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): What is the first investigation you are planning to conduct once you assume your duties at the Control Yuan?

Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟): I do not intend to start a war by fighting everywhere at once. I am not yet familiar with the Control Yuan’s operations. I would not start with high-publicity cases, such as former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) case involving the alleged leaking of secrets, or former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) corruption case over the Longtan (龍潭) land deal.

Those cases are more difficult and any failure on my part to handle them would have a negative effect on all of the investigations that I might embark on later. So, my first investigation is designed as a full dress rehearsal for things yet to come, although I should add that I will not be wasting any effort on small fry, either.

To begin with, I plan on selecting a certain case that involves Ma and Chen Shui-bian in a peripheral way. I would not at the moment bring up issues that are politically or legally divisive.

Cases of such nature would be less trying for me and more acceptable to the public. I can only say that the first case will involve issues of human rights that involve Chen Shui-bian. Although it is not one of the core cases, it is of high significance and I expect to file for the formal investigation of the case after the Lunar New Year holiday.

LT: You have said that the constitutional structure of the government should be amended to have four branches, instead of five. However, you have also said that the Control Yuan is “recyclable rubbish.” Can you clarify your view about the Control Yuan?

Chen: I had previously advocated the abolition of the Control Yuan. Back then, I thought it was redundant to have the Control Yuan issuing corrections against public officials over breaking laws or negligence.

The judiciary system is already empowered to handle such issues. For negligence, there are plenty of public officials whose duty it is to make sure their subordinates do their jobs correctly. It seemed to me that having the Control Yuan was akin to putting an extra team of horses at the other end of the wagon; it muddles the powers and responsibilities of the government’s various branches.

Fast-forward to two years ago, Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), the then-presidential candidate of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), posted something interesting on Facebook. It was a video of a legislative question-and-answer session involving Hung and myself, at the time Presidential Office secretary-general.

Hung was unhappy with comments that I had made about the national flag [during that session] and she later reported me to the Control Yuan, which told me to reflect deeply on the errors of my ways.

Hung’s video jogged my memory. After viewing it, I reviewed the Control Act (監察法) and the Constitution; this led to my discovery that the Control Yuan is empowered to correct Judicial Yuan members and judges. Suddenly, I experienced an epiphany.

Taiwan’s justice system is not independent, yet judges are empowered to make life-or-death decisions. In this case, the Control Yuan’s powers are a necessary check on the judiciary.

A four-branch government would still have been ideal. The UK and the US do well with just three branches.

However, they can do so because their justice system is highly independent of executive control. Their judges are elected and they have the system of trial by jury.

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