The Special Investigation Division (SID) has accused Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of calling former minister of justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) and “lobbying” him. The news sent shockwaves through the country and the nation’s political world reeled.
Immediately, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) announced his shock and horror at the allegations and the next day he issued a public statement ordering Wang to return immediately from his trip abroad to explain himself.
Shortly after, the Presidential Office called a press conference in which Ma spoke — with rarely heard gravity — about how Taiwan was on a dangerous course, and how that day was “the most shameful day in the development of democracy and the rule of law in Taiwan.”
He roundly criticized his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) colleague Wang, saying: “Each one of us needs to ask ourselves, if this is not lobbying, then what is? If powerful people can lobby and influence the judiciary, how can ordinary people be assured of judicial justice?”
People are incensed when powerful figures try to influence the judiciary. However, the case against Wang is based on inferences made from conversations obtained through surveillance and hasty conclusions. The case will be viewed differently in the political realm than in a legal setting.
If Ma believes Wang’s telephone conversations constitute improper lobbying, perhaps he is being hypocritical.
On Nov. 5, 2010, Taipei District Court Judge Chou Chan-chun (周占春) declared former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) not guilty of the charges against him in connection with the second financial reform.
Two days later, Ma — in his capacity as president — openly discussed the case, criticizing the not-guilty verdict in the strongest of terms. He said: “The judiciary should be independent, but it cannot be isolated, neither can it shy away from the reasonable expectations that the public has of it.”
On Nov. 9, he held a banquet at the Presidential Office, to which he invited the premier, the vice premier, the legislative speaker, the deputy speaker, the president and vice president of the Judicial Yuan, the secretaries-general of those institutions, the minister of justice and the prosecutor-general. During the dinner he said: “Respecting the law does not equate to ignoring the disappointment and anger the general public feels about the judges that deliver verdicts that fail to meet the reasonable expectations the people have of them. I have heard what people have had to say, and I have taken note.”
On that occasion Ma announced that the SID had already decided to appeal the verdict on the second financial reform case.
Then on Nov. 11, the Supreme Court convicted Chen — in a move unprecedented for such a complex and highly contentious case — sending the former president, who had already been detained for a long time, to jail.
Perhaps this is what Ma meant when he talked of meeting the public’s reasonable expectations. Shockingly, the court did not announce its verdict in full until a month later.
Is this sequence of events an example of “powerful people” lobbying and influencing the judiciary? Does Ma think that inviting senior members of the judiciary to a dinner and commenting on individual cases could be considered “political guidance”? Were these actions flagrant lobbying of the Supreme Court in order to see his political enemy put behind bars?
Chen Chih-chung is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and has a master’s in law from New York University.
Translated by Paul Cooper
South China Sea exercises in July by two United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers reminds that Taiwan’s history since mid-1950, and as a free nation, is intertwined with that of the aircraft carrier. Eventually Taiwan will host aircraft carriers, either those built under its democratic government or those imposed on its territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). By September 1944, a lack of sufficient carrier airpower and land-based airpower persuaded US Army and Navy leaders to forgo an invasion to wrest Taiwan from Japanese control, thereby sparing Taiwanese considerable wartime destruction. But two
As a person raised in a family that revered the teachings of Confucius (孔子) and Mencius (孟子), I believe that both sages would agree with Hong Kong students that people-based politics is the only legitimate way to govern China, including Hong Kong. More than two millennia ago, Confucius insisted that a leader’s first loyalty is to his people — they are water to the leader’s ship. Confucius said that the water could let the ship float only if it sailed in accordance with the will of the water. If the ship sailed against the will of the water, the ship would sink. Two
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
The US Navy’s aircraft carrier battle groups are the most dramatic symbol of Washington’s military and geopolitical power. They were critical to winning World War II in the Pacific and have since been deployed in the Indo-Pacific region to communicate resolve against potential adversaries of the US. The presence or absence of the US Seventh Fleet — the configuration of US Navy ships and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region built around the carriers — generally determines whether war or peace prevails in the region. In the immediate post-war period, Washington’s strategic planners in the administration of then-US president Harry Truman shockingly