Friday, March 30, 2007

Who can save Hsieh Wen-ting?

Who can save Hsieh Wen-ting?
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
March 30, 2007

High Court Chief Prosecutor Hsieh Wen-ting, purged for refusing to cover up rampant Chen Shui-bian regime corruption

Comment: In "The Myth of Checks and Balances" I wrote:

In theory, a democratically elected president is merely the highest ranking official in one of three or more coequal branches of government, the executive branch.

In reality, in any monopolistic state with a presidential system, the president is an elective dictator, the legislature is a debating society, and the judiciary is a rubber stamp. Real world experience has demonstrated that over time, the executive invariably co-opts the judiciary and marginalizes the legislature.

In theory, the coequal branches of government provide "checks and balances" upon each other, preventing them from ganging up upon the individual citizens they have sworn to protect and serve.

In reality, because the executive is the branch that has been delegated the power to "execute" policy (pun intended), it invariably usurps any and all powers delegated to the other branches of a monopolistic state. Real world experience has shown that "limited government" inevitably morphs into unlimited government, and that the executive is always the branch that winds up monopolizing that limitless power. It makes no difference whether the executive was popularly elected, self-appointed, or hereditary.

When this happens, "champions of democracy" assure us that what is needed is "reform."

I disagree.

Democracies do not need to be reformed. They need to be replaced. Democracies and other monopolistic states degenerate into dictatorships because they are structurally defective therefore impervious to reform from their very inception.

Democracies and other monopolistic states must be replaced with non-monopolistic political arrangements that refrain from granting any single political entity an exclusive franchise on the use of force within any given jurisdiction.

Unless by some miracle the Chinese people on Taiwan forsake "democracy" and adopt market anarchism, the answer to the question "Who can save Hsieh Wen-ting" will remain: "Nobody."

Who can save Hsieh Wen-ting?

United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
March 30, 2007

The Ministry of Justice, confronted with a boycott by all nine elected members of the Personnel Review Committee, has rammed through the reassignment of 26 chief prosecutors, the most controversial of which is the Hsieh Wen-ting case.

The elected members of the Personnel Review Committee issued a powerful statement to the effect that "Public prosecutors categorically must not retreat before such flagrant manipulation of the justice system by political forces. Otherwise the authority of the Public Prosecutor's Office will become subordinate to the authority of the Executive branch, and public prosecutors will become political goons. The justice system categorically must not bow to political power." The outrage they felt was clear from their language.

What we are witnessing is a war of annihilation and extermination, waged by malevolent political forces against the spirit of an independent judiciary. If Hsieh Wen-ting is forced out of office in this manner by a malevolent political authority, what will become of our legal system? How will administrators of justice enforce the law?

Over the past year, the fate of Chief Prosecutor Hsieh Wen-ting opf the High Court Prosecutor's Office has hinged on the outcome of a savage struggle between politics and law enforcement. Last April, the legislature vetoed Hsieh Wen-ting's appointment as Prosecutor General. The reason was the opposition parties lacked confidence in Hsieh Wen-ting's managerial style. One year later, it turns out that because Hsieh Wen-ting resisted pressure to sweep Chen Shui-bian's State Affairs Confidential Expense scandal under the rug, he was summarily replaced.

According to reports, during the State Affairs Confidential Expense scandal, political figures at the highest levels attempted through a variety of channels to discover from Hsieh Wen-ting's own statements, the direction and progress of his investigation, but received no response. Word also spread that following the indictment in this case, political figures at the highest levels hoped that Hsieh Wen-ting would order public prosecutors to withdraw the charges, but Hsieh Wen-ting "resisted the will of those above him." Case prosecutor Eric Chen confirmed that Hsieh Wen-ting said that "The pressure stops here." Hsieh wanted them to be free from political considerations and to handle matters according to the letter and spirit of the law.

After all is said and done, one must admit that Hsieh Wen-ting has upheld his role as an administrator of justice. Meanwhile, looking back at the tumultuous changes over the past year, Chen Tsung-ming's ascent to the throne of Prosecutor General due to People First Party collusion, represents shameful self-abasement. Scandals erupted again and again, and the Ministry of Justice covered them up again and again. Hsieh Wen-ting on the other hand, just missed becoming Prosecutor General because he "resisted the will of those above him." His appointment to Prosecutor General was unexpectedly rejected. Is this not a political and judicial farce that leaves one unsure whether to laugh or to cry?

Hsieh Wen-ting's replacement, at such a time and under such circumstances, cannot help but arouse suspicions. No wonder an atmosphere of indignation permeates prosecutorial circles. If the rumor that Hsieh Wen-ting was replaced because he "resisted the will of those above him" is true, then this is nothing less than the undisguised purging of political dissent from judicial circles.
Those in power have openly declared war upon the judicial world. "Obey me and live, Defy me and die!" "Refuse to cover up my corruption, and I will have your job!" Is this not a war of annihilation and extermination against justice?

Yesterday before the Examining Committee, elected committee members suggested that as long as the facts of the case remained in doubt, meetings should be suspended. But the Ministry of Justice ignored Examining Committee rules requiring a 2/3 quorum and held an illegal meeting which all nine elected committee members refused to attend.

In a single breath, the Ministry of Justice transferred 26 chief prosecutors, inspiring Committee Member Chen Chih-ming to question the urgent need to transfer personnel who were just now learning their jobs. On the Prosecutorial Reform Committee's offical website, Chen Chih-ming pointed out that Minister of Justice Shih Mao-ling's "abnormal behavior" might have been motivated by either selfish concerns or year end election concerns, in order to manipulate the vote-buying investigation process. Chen Chih-ming said that the situation was worse than imagined. If that is indeed the case, it amounts to a political purge of individuals of integrity within the justice system.

Chen Chih-ming considered this highly unethical. He pointed out that the motive for making such major reassignments was entirely selfish. If such selfish behavior set a negative precedent, it would undermine chief prosecutors who respected the law.

This is a ruling regime utterly devoid of moral virtue, which now hopes by means of its hold on political power to purge prosecutorial circles of any last vestiges of integrity, in order to advance its private interests. Can the nation and the justice system do nothing but look on as a ruling regime devoid of moral virtue practices a policy of "Obey me and live, defy me and die," and creates a justice system utterly devoid of moral virtue?

Perhaps due to strong protests from elected committee members, yesterday's roster contained hints of compromise. But Chen Tsung-ming sits securely on his throne. Hsieh Wen-ting meanwhile, leaves office on a bittersweet note. This reflects perfectly the current state of the justice system. The laws of god, the laws of man, public sentiment. Who can demand that Chen Tsung-ming step down? And who can save Hsieh Wen-ting?

Original Chinese below:














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