Self-styled elder statesman of the pan-green camp and former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟) was nominated to work for the Control Yuan and issued a statement saying he intends to clean out any “black sheep” within the judiciary.
Chen was referring to those unscrupulous members of the judiciary that he believes drank from the poisoned cup of the decaying party-state system.
These people have tried to block the government’s transitional justice bill, failed to overturn many miscarriages of justice by military tribunals during the Martial Law era and are the chief culprits of attempts to obstruct the government’s policy of returning all the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) ill-gotten assets.
Some people have already predicted that the Supreme Administrative Court justices who ruled against the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee will be dismissed.
Article 9 of the Republic of China Constitution states: “The Control Yuan shall be the highest control organ of the State and shall exercise the powers of consent, impeachment, censure and auditing.”
The Control Yuan’s power of consent has been taken over by the legislature, and according to the Control Act (監察法), its primary authority is the impeachment and censure of civil servants who engaged in illegal behavior or negligence.
However, the Control Yuan only has the authority to censure or impeach civil servants. If no explicit transgression has been uncovered, the Control Yuan cannot censure a person based on toxic attitudes adopted during the authoritarian party-state period. If they did, its members would themselves be guilty of illegal and negligent behavior and could be impeached.
It is undeniable that under Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) there were many unjust laws that violated universal human rights, such as the Punishment of Rebellion Act (懲治叛亂條例) and the Suppression of the Communist Rebellion Act (戡亂時期檢肅匪諜條例), which defined the expression of political views and criticism of the government as acts of treachery. Even people who had contact with those branded “traitors” were regarded as traitors themselves.
These unjust laws and regulations were long ago criticized by lawyers, pioneering democracy activists and principled members of the judiciary. Following several transitions of political power, these laws have been repealed.
In every generation, it is the duty of the judiciary to independently and effectively uphold the law without fear or favor. Perhaps within today’s judiciary, there remain people who previously applied some of those unjust laws, but this is a consequence of the changing times. Chen’s grandfather Chen Pu-lei (陳布雷) followed Chiang for more than two decades; this was a natural and unavoidable consequence of the time.
Those regulations now belong to the past. It is the duty of today’s judiciary to enforce all of Taiwan’s laws. Could it really be that there are still members of the judiciary intent on sticking to the toxic ways of the party-state and obstructing transitional justice?
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) holds the presidency and enjoys a majority in the legislature. Based on bitter experience, it should be even better able to understand the importance of the civil service in maintaining neutrality and of an independent judiciary.
If the DPP, after having gained control of the three main branches of government, continues to see itself as a victim and governs based on an ideological view of the “vestiges of the party-state,” then in what way is this any different from Chiang’s authoritarian government?
Li Chin-i is a head prosecutor at the Taichung branch of the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office.
Translated by Edward Jones