Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Uphold Neutrality and the Rule of Law

Uphold Neutrality and the Rule of Law
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 22, 2008

Chang Cheng-hsiung and his ilk must vacate the political arena. They must vanish without a trace. The Central Election Commission (CEC) was meant to be a professional and neutral institution. But Chang Cheng-hsiung and others like him have turned it into the Democratic Progressive Party's political tool. Chang Cheng-hsiung and his ilk are a disgrace to democracy, a detriment to constitutional rule.

The results of the legislative elections is likely to be a second regime change. To the nation's civil servants, this is an unforgettable experience. No party rules in perpetuity. But civil servants serve for a lifetime. Ruling parties come and go. It is civil servants who are the gatekeepers of constitutional values and the maintainers of government standards. If a ruling party tramples over the constitution, violates the law, misrules the nation, and undermines society's morals, civil servants must be able to maintain order until regime change brings another party into power.

Chang Cheng-hsiung is not an ordinary civil servant. The CEC chairmanship is a constitutionally-mandate, specially-appointed, politically-neutral role. The Democratic Progressive Party applied Superglue to the locks on the doors to the Legislative Yuan. They prevented Chang Cheng-hsiung's firing. Chang Cheng-hsiung then used the CEC as a tool in the DPP's political struggles. He manipulated elections and violated neutrality. But even Chang Cheng-hsiung was unable to revive the Democratic Progressive Party. Not this time. Instead, his attempt to deliberately sow confusion by package-dealing the plebiscite with the election infuriated the electorate, who used their ballots to punish the DPP. In the end, Chang Cheng-hsiung destroyed himself. He destroyed the CEC. He destroyed the spirit of the constitution. He even destroyed the DPP.

The CEC is neutral in theory. It ought to be neutral in fact. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party's has committed many sins during its eight years of misrule. But its most unforgiveable sin is that it has virtually destroyed all remnants of neutrality required under constitutionalism and the rule of law.

Can you imagine Nita Ying as the Minister of Audit, nominating members of the Bureau of Audit? Have you seen the list of rejected Control Yuan nominees? Is any political trust possible under such circumstances? Can you believe that Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mo strongarmed legislators on behalf of the ruling regime's constitutional interpretation case? Have you seen the way the grand justices twisted the meaning of the constitution on behalf of the ruling regime during its constitutional interpretation cases? How could our Attorney General let us down so badly? How could our Special Investigative Unit be so flagrantly partisan? How could our state-owned enterprises become political spoils? How could our banks become underwriters of our ruling regime?

Grand justices, CEC officials, state-owned enterprises, and special investigative unit officials all require neutrality and professionalism to a greater or lesser degree. The black hand of political manipulators and partisan interests must be excluded. But every one of these these realms has been coopted. The nominally public Council of Grand Justices has become a private service provider for partisan interests. The nominally public CEC has become a private service provider for the ruling DPP. Neutrality has disappeared and constitutional rule is nowhere to be found.

Neutrality and professionalism are indispensable to constitutionalism and the rule of law. One must fight for them tooth and nail. Compromise is not an option. If the CEC is not neutral, then constitutional rule has been seriously undermined. When the CEC produced Chang Cheng-hsiung, the CEC became a DPP pawn, instead of a fair and impartial entity. The DPP's special aptitude is its ability to plant counterparts of Chang Cheng-hsiung everywhere, from the Council of Grand Justices to the China Steel Corporation. No need to enumerate. The public can count.

Lin Wen-hu, the Vice-chairman of the National Parents Union, concluded that Minister of Education Tu Cheng-shen's "political machinations were not good. He (Tu) is working for the DPP, not for education." This remark rang true with many parents. In fact, it hit the nail on the head. Parents are concerned that professionalism and the spirit of education have been lost. By the same token, many peoples' concern is that Chang Cheng-hsiung is working for the DPP, not for fair elections.

A second "regime change" is imminent. Major reconstruction is required to restore constitutionalism and the rule of law, along with neutrality and professionalism. Grand justices like Cheng Chung-mo, CEC Commissioners like Chang Cheng-hsiung, and Ministers of Education like Tu Cheng-shen are out of the question. Such individuals must not be nominated. Individuals nominated must display neutrality and professionalism, and not willingly debase themselves.

Parents' representatives lament that Tu Cheng-sheng is "working for the Democratic Progressive Party, not for education." Every civil servant today needs to hear this lament. If indeed a "second regime change" is imminent, every civil servant needs to hear it again: "The Civil Service does not belong to the KMT. It belongs to the people. It serves the people."

2008.01.22 03:16 am











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