Speculation over whether Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (
With the entire Cabinet due to resign tomorrow, Chen will step down as justice minister, a post which he has occupied since 2000. There had been rumors in the past week that Chen would return to his hometown and run for Ilan County commissioner, and Premier Yu Shyi-kun implied that Chen would do so. But Chen's intentions were not known until yesterday.
The speculation began on Jan. 15, when current Ilan County Deputy Commissioner Chiang Chun-hsin (江淳信) and 20 other local political heavyweights co-signed an endorsement urging Chen to go for the commissioner's campaign at the end of the year.
Chen explained yesterday that he had avoided the topic because of constant media criticism of him. He said that many news agencies kept criticizing him because he is well-known for being strict and always asking for perfection in every aspect of his life and work. If his decision has been exposed too early, it would have potentially harmed himself and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Although he is leaving the minister's office, Chen said that he still has a lot of work to carry out and contributions to make to Taiwan's law enforcement. His remarks indicated that his priority is to change Taiwanese people's attitudes and image to justice.
Chen said that in Taiwan, the minister of justice is the top prosecutor, but that the minister is only authorized to promote, demote or punish prosecutors as well as deal with administrative work. However, many Taiwanese people do not understand this and always complain that the minister is simply ordering around prosecutors during an investigation.
"For example, if we indict a pan-blue person, we will be criticized for politically harassing our opponents," Chen said. "If we indict a pan-green person, we will be criticized that we are looking for trouble. It's a tough job because you will be criticized no matter what you do."
Chen's work is also endorsed by Premier Yu Shyi-kun, his superior officer.
"The Taipei-Ilan Freeway is about to be completed," Yu said. "At this moment, if Chen brings his administrative experience back to Ilan, it will definitely be a turbo booster for the county, needless to say that Chen is also an Ilan native. I think he is the right person for the seat."
The premier said that becoming a commissioner after being justice minister may be a sacrifice for Chen, but that he will support Chen because it will do Ilan good in the future.
Back at DPP headquarters, senior members Chen O-po (陳歐珀), Lin Te-fu (林德福) and Lin Chin-tsai (林進財), who were all seeking nomination for the commissioner's post, said they will withdraw from the race and support Chen instead.
Before Chen's announcement about running for Ilan County commissioner, he had also been suggested as the nominee for the Taipei City mayor's race in 2002.
Chen, as an Ilan native, began his political career when he first won the Ilan County commissioner's campaign in 1981 and occupied the office for two terms, until 1989.
During his eight-year term in Ilan, he cracked down on factory pollution and spent the fines that were collected on cleaning up polluted areas. He established the country's first "flexible day-off" work policy. The "flexible day-off" policy means whenever a holiday falls two days ahead or behind the weekend, people get the day in between off as well, so they can enjoy a long weekend.
He dismissed intelligence agents who had been placed in companies and schools back in the martial law era. And he eliminated a regulation requiring that the national anthem be played in theaters before the beginning of every movie.
Chen's political involvement goes back to his connections with the tang wai (黨外) movement, the forerunner of the DPP. Many of those involved in the Kaohsiung Incident in 1979 were Chen's high school or college friends.
In addition, the murder of former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung's (