The Control Yuan on Friday decided not to impeach Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong (張通榮) for alleged influence peddling because of concerns that the move would be premature and that the body needed to be cautious about impeaching elected officials.
Control Yuan members voted 8-4 not to impeach Chang for allegedly using his position to pressure police officers in the city to ignore a drunk driving case, allegations for which he has been indicted by prosecutors.
Upon hearing the result, Chang said he respected the stance of the Control Yuan members and that his conscience was clear regarding the matter.
Of the three Control Yuan members — Yang Mei-ling (楊美鈴), Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏) and Gau Fehng-shian (高鳳仙) — who investigated the case, only Yang and Chen backed Chang’s impeachment on Friday.
Gau contended that the vote on impeachment was premature because Chang’s case is still being prosecuted. She said she believed that the vote should have been held only if Chang were convicted.
Yang and Cheng said the vote was proposed because Chang did not act in way fit for a public functionary and violated the Public Service Functionary Act (公務員服務法).
The case stems from Chang’s actions in September last year, when he allegedly used the pretext of serving his constituents to pressure the police into releasing a woman surnamed Liao (廖), who allegedly assaulted and injured a policewoman under the influence of alcohol.
The police were ready to hand Liao’s case to prosecutors on charges of obstruction of official duties, but Chang reportedly appeared at the police station and demanded that the woman be released, even pounding a table and threatening to transfer those who dared disobey him.
His efforts succeeded, and Liao was released.
The vote against impeachment by the Control Yuan — the branch of government responsible for censuring illegal or inappropriate behavior by public officials and agencies — came a day after it impeached an official within its own ranks.
The body impeached Control Yuan Secretary-General Chen Feng-yi (陳豐義) in a 6-4 vote on Thursday for destroying documents in a way that violated the Archives Act (檔案法).
However, members who voted against Chang’s impeachment said the two cases were different and that Friday’s decision did not mean they backed Chang, but that they believed the impeachment of elected officials should be dealt with cautiously.
Officials who are brought to power by the people should also be removed by the people, they said.
According to the Control Yuan, Chang was the third elected official to face impeachment.
Former Taitung county commissioner Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞) was impeached in 2009 for misusing public funds on overseas trips.
Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) successfully fought off impeachment in 2011 over allegations of negligence in a nightclub fire in his city that left nine people dead.