Former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) proposed referendum on punishment for politicians and government officials charged with obstruction of justice was criticized yesterday by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) .
“Of all the people, Ma is the most unsuited and the least qualified person to lead this referendum proposal. When Ma was in power, he repeatedly interfered in the nation’s judicial system and manipulated judiciary officials,” Ker said at a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.
“Ma’s intent is to use the referendum as a ‘loincloth’ to shield his guilt and his many wrongdoings,” Ker said, adding that Ma was not only looking to cover up previous illegal activities, but also trying to direct current officials in the judiciary.
Ma and his lawyer, C.V. Chen (陳長文), are the leading proponents of the referendum proposal, which was approved by the Central Election Committee last month.
The proposal, dubbed the “anti-obstruction of criminal justice” referendum, would seek punishment for presidents, lawmakers, Control Yuan members and other high-ranking officials who directly or indirectly pressured, lobbied or improperly influenced members of the judiciary to obtain a favorable court ruling for themselves or others.
Ker cited several examples of Ma’s alleged interference with the judiciary.
“Ma told then prosecutor-general Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) on August 31, 2013, to report on wiretap findings to the legislature. Huang had been investigating myself and [then-legislative speaker] Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), and had approved the wiretapping,” Ker said.
Huang was convicted for leaking classified information and breaching personal privacy protection and surveillance laws, Ker said.
Ma was indicted on charges stemming from the case, which created the “September Strife” on Sept. 6, 2013, he said.
“I later found out that Special Investigation Unit had installed wiretaps to listen in on all of my telephone conversations, 24-hours a day. They had people working shifts around-the-clock, conducting extensive and detailed surveillance on me,” he said.
DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang’s (段宜康) mockery of Ma’s proposal drew laughter and amused looks from committee members and attending officials.
“I disagree with my DPP colleagues,” Tuan said. “We should not stop Ma from proposing a referendum on punishment for politicians and government officials who obstruct justice. It is actually Ma’s way of confessing, of admitting his guilt for the numerous times that he has interfered with the judiciary.”
Lawmakers should provide for cases to be examined retroactively when discussing proposed referendum so that Ma’s efforts to own up to his own wrongdoings would not be in vain, as litigation is ongoing in several of Ma’s cases, Tuan said.
OVERHAUL NEEDED: The government should improve its agricultural processing capabilities and expand to new markets to limit its reliance on China, an expert said China’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples was “unsurprising,” and Taiwan should have years ago altered its produce export strategies and target customers, experts said. China on Friday abruptly suspended imports of pineapples from Taiwan, saying that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful biological entities” on the fruit. Calling it an “unfriendly” move, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said that 99.79 percent of the pineapples sent to China since last year have met China’s import standards. Chiao Chun (焦鈞), the author of Fruits and Politics — A Recollection of Cross-strait Agricultural Interaction Over the Past Decade (水果政治學：兩岸農業交流十年回顧與展望), said that China’s announcement is clearly targeting
‘NOT COLD ENOUGH’: Schools are disregarding Premier Su Tseng-chang’s instruction that students may wear out-of-uniform clothing to stay warm, an association said An investigative report revealed that 72.5 percent of the nation’s senior-high schools and 95.6 percent of junior-high schools punish students for wearing unapproved winter clothes in contravention of educational guidelines, lawmakers and student rights advocates said yesterday. Speaking at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, the Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy said there is an endemic disregard for the Ministry of Education’s regulations and that private schools are more likely to contravene ministry rules. The report is a compilation of 2,856 student reports about dress code reinforcement at 425 high schools and vocational high schools, the association said. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌)
DISSATISFACTION? If the referendums collect more than 700,000 signatures each, they would have gotten the most signatures in the shortest time, the party said The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) two referendum petitions — one on banning the importation of pork with traces of ractopamine and the other on holding referendums on the same day as national elections — had as of Thursday gathered 691,398 and 674,497 signatures respectively, the party said yesterday. If the petitions collect more than 700,000 signatures apiece, they would have garnered the most signatures in the shortest time since the Referendum Act (公民投票法) was amended in 2017, party officials said. The KMT proposed the “anti-ractopamine pork” or “food safety” referendum just days after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement on Aug. 28 last
DECADES OF INFLUENCE: Over the past 20 years, China has made inroads with Aborigines, funding political campaigns and trips, a legislator said Lawmakers have called on the National Security Bureau to investigate claims of pervasive Chinese influence among Aboriginal communities. Legislators pointed to a surge in communist propaganda and Chinese-funded projects over the past few years, which they say are aimed at infiltrating and buying political influence among Aboriginal communities. “China has for decades carried out wide-ranging ‘united front’ tactics and propaganda campaigns targeting Aborigines,” said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩), a member of the Puyuma community in Taitung County. “Now, they are influencing elections for local councilors and village chiefs, offering money for candidates to mount their campaigns, and to