Former Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) secretary-general C.V. Chen (陳長文) yesterday announced that he and former presidential office deputy secretary-general Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) are going to establish the Anti-Obstruction of Justice Referendum Alliance, with former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) onboard to push for a referendum to protect judicial independence and Taiwan’s rule of law.
In a press release issued through Lo, Chen said Lo would be the alliance’s chief executive, while he would serve as its convener
Ma has also agreed to his invitation to be the leading proposer of an “anti-obstruction of justice” referendum, said Chen, a lawyer who also served as president of the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China.
He said the proposed referendum states: “Do you agree that attempts by the president, legislators, Control Yuan members, high-level civil servants and leaders of the Judicial and Executive Yuan to directly or indirectly achieve favorable or unfavorable sentences or punishments for their own legal cases, or the legal cases of others by coercing, threatening, influencing or engaging in other illegal behavior toward members of the judiciary should be punished by law?”
Newly appointed Control Yuan member Chen Shih-meng’s (陳師孟) threatening remarks about the judiciary show that Taiwan’s rule of law and judicial independence are already under threat, C.V. Chen said.
Nothing can be expected from the Legislative Yuan since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) holds a majority of seats, so there is no choice but to hold a referendum to give the public a chance to voice its opinion, he said.
Hopefully, the referendum could be held alongside the mayoral and county commissioner elections at the end of the year, he said.
That would mean the schedule for getting a referendum on the issue approved would be tight, but he would do his best to achieve it, he said.
C.V. Chen had contacted Ma about establishing an alliance and pushing for a law to cover of a “crime against the obstruction of justice,” Ma’s office said.
Ma has always agreed the idea that Taiwan’s judiciary should be just, independent and unaffected by political influences, the office said.
Ma agreed to participate in the signature drive for the referendum as a way of urging the Ministry of Justice to carry out the conclusion from the National Congress on Judicial Reform that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) organized last year as soon as possible and propose relevant amendments to the Legislative Yuan, the office said.
Given Ma’s status as a former president, C.V. Chen had asked Ma to be the leading proposer of the referendum, and Ma respects and is thankful for his good intentions, Ma’s office said.
However, Chen Shih-meng rejected criticism that his words or actions could threaten the nation’s judiciary.
The proposed referendum to be led by Ma is “very good,” but it would be best if the principle allowing for “penalty without a law” was added to the main text of the referendum and the punishment was increased, especially for presidents, the Control Yuan member said.
If such a principle were included in the referendum proposal, he would encourage everyone to vote “yes” in the referendum and do so himself, he said.
Chen Shih-meng said he was not bothered by the idea that the referendum might be aimed at him and it would not affect his investigations as a Control Yuan member.
Additional reporting by Chung Li-hua
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