Group calls for legislators involved in lawsuits to leave legislative committee

CONFLICT OF INTEREST::The watchdog said that two legislators who were on a Legislative Yuan committee should be recused due to their involvement in lawsuits

By Chen Jing-min and Jake Chung  /  Staff Reporter, with Staff Writer

Tue, Oct 16, 2012 - Page 3

The legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee has become an asylum for legislators who do not know how to avoid conflicts of interest, Citizen Congress Watch (CCW) said yesterday, adding that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) and People First Party Legislator Lin Cheng-er (林正二) should be asked to leave the committee.

The organziation said it was inappropriate for Lin and Liao to be in the committee because they were still involved in lawsuits over alleged vote-buying and therefore should not have the power to pull and read files, nor review and pass budgets and acts.

It is especially inappropriate that Liao is one of the conveners of the committee, which gives him the power to exclude certain issues from committee meetings, the group’s founding chairman Shih Hsin-min (施信民) said.

These issues could either directly or indirectly impact the judiciary’s neutrality, Shih said, calling on the two men to avoid conflicts of interest and back out of the committee.

CCW secretary-general Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) said there were legal precedents of legislators involved in legal cases while being members of the committee that allegedly resulted in said legislators abusing their positions to harass judicial authorities investigating their cases.

Former KMT legislators Lo Fu-chu (羅福助), Ho Chih-hui (何智輝), and Lin Chin-chun (林進春) were in similar positions when they were legislators, Chang said, adding that several legislators had launched a signature drive to bar Lo from entering the committee, but had failed.

The Prosecutor’s Reform Association had also declared that Lo’s involvement in the committee had set back the government’s policies to combat organized crime in Taiwan by tying the hands of prosecutors with administrative red tape.

After Ho became the committee’s convener, he had once asked the judiciary to make a special report on the issues of “restriction of leaving the nation” and “nondisclosure of investigation,” Chang said, adding that Lin had also raised the issue of slashing the High Courts Prosecutor’s Office’s budget.

Chen Yao-hsiang (陳耀祥), an assistant professor at National Taipei University’s Department of Public Administration and Policy, also said that the person enacting legal power should keep an appropriate distance from issues that pertain to his position.

Such regulations have been mentioned in both the Act on Recusal of Public Servants Due to Conflicts of Interest (公職人員利益衝突迴避法) and the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法), Chen said, adding that legislators should be castigated for being strict with others and easy on themselves.

Judicial Reform Foundation manager Kao Jung-chih (高榮志) said the legislature should make amendments to the Organic Law of the Legislative Yuan (立法院組織法), the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power (立法院職權行使法) and the Organic Law of Committees of the Legislative Yuan (立法院各委員會組織法) in order to establish a system by which legislators embroiled in certain cases would not be able to abuse their power and intervene in the judicial process.

Lin and Liao say they are innocent and Liao said the High Court had twice ruled that he was innocent.