Former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) proposed referendum on punishment for politicians and government officials charged with obstruction of justice was criticized yesterday by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) .
“Of all the people, Ma is the most unsuited and the least qualified person to lead this referendum proposal. When Ma was in power, he repeatedly interfered in the nation’s judicial system and manipulated judiciary officials,” Ker said at a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.
“Ma’s intent is to use the referendum as a ‘loincloth’ to shield his guilt and his many wrongdoings,” Ker said, adding that Ma was not only looking to cover up previous illegal activities, but also trying to direct current officials in the judiciary.
Ma and his lawyer, C.V. Chen (陳長文), are the leading proponents of the referendum proposal, which was approved by the Central Election Committee last month.
The proposal, dubbed the “anti-obstruction of criminal justice” referendum, would seek punishment for presidents, lawmakers, Control Yuan members and other high-ranking officials who directly or indirectly pressured, lobbied or improperly influenced members of the judiciary to obtain a favorable court ruling for themselves or others.
Ker cited several examples of Ma’s alleged interference with the judiciary.
“Ma told then prosecutor-general Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) on August 31, 2013, to report on wiretap findings to the legislature. Huang had been investigating myself and [then-legislative speaker] Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), and had approved the wiretapping,” Ker said.
Huang was convicted for leaking classified information and breaching personal privacy protection and surveillance laws, Ker said.
Ma was indicted on charges stemming from the case, which created the “September Strife” on Sept. 6, 2013, he said.
“I later found out that Special Investigation Unit had installed wiretaps to listen in on all of my telephone conversations, 24-hours a day. They had people working shifts around-the-clock, conducting extensive and detailed surveillance on me,” he said.
DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang’s (段宜康) mockery of Ma’s proposal drew laughter and amused looks from committee members and attending officials.
“I disagree with my DPP colleagues,” Tuan said. “We should not stop Ma from proposing a referendum on punishment for politicians and government officials who obstruct justice. It is actually Ma’s way of confessing, of admitting his guilt for the numerous times that he has interfered with the judiciary.”
Lawmakers should provide for cases to be examined retroactively when discussing proposed referendum so that Ma’s efforts to own up to his own wrongdoings would not be in vain, as litigation is ongoing in several of Ma’s cases, Tuan said.
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