When Chen Tsung-ming and Shih Mao-lin Turn Up in Huang Fang-yen's Living Room
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 21, 2010
The public does not know whether Chen Tsung-ming leaked case information to Huang Fang-yen. But the Control Yuan had good reason to conclude that Chen Tsung-ming was happy to see Huang Fang-yen flee the country and go into hiding. After all, if Huang Fang-yen was investigated, he just might reveal the details of his association with Chen Tsung-ming, to the serious detriment of Chen Tsung-ming.
The articles of impeachment describe the February 26, 2007 Chinese New Years banquet at Huang Fang-yen's house in great detail. Control Yuan Member Li Fu-dian, a co-sponsor, said that Minister of Justice Shih Mao-lin and Prosecutor General Chen Tsung-ming attended the banquet. Together they appeared at the private residence of Huang Fang-yen, a suspect in the Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-cheng corruption cases. This was not merely questionable, it raised "suspicions of criminal conduct." Li Fu-dian concluded that there were clear grounds for suspicion.
Chen Tsung-ming's rebuttal was hardly convincing. He said "According to this logic, nobody is permitted to have contacts with those in power." But Chen Tsung-ming is the Prosecutor General. He is not just anybody. At the time Huang Fang-yen was a key figure in the Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-cheng corruption case. How could he be considered "just another person close to the ruling government?" Yet both the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor General showed up in Huang Fang-yen's home, the same time that the Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-cheng corruption cases were making the headlines. How can this be possibly be classified as routine contacts with those in power?
Control Yuan member Chien Lin Hui-chung, another co-sponsor, said that "anyone who bothered to read a paper" at the time knew that Huang Fang-yen and Chen Shui-bian had a special relationship. They had special roles in Chen Shui-bian's corruption case. Chen Tsung-ming and Shih Mao-lin were even more familiar with the facts of the case than the average citizen. How could they not know who Huang Fang-yen was? The Chinese New Years banquet Chen Tsung-ming and Huang Fang-yen attended had already raised "suspicions of criminal conduct." Yet Chen Tsung-ming had the temerity to argue that "According to this logic, nobody is permitted to have contacts with those in power." He had the gall to feign innocence. This is both self-deception and deception of others. This is especially unforgivable.
That Chinese New Years banquet was perhaps the single most sordid political scenario in recent memory. It was perhaps the most shameful judicial scenario in recent memory. Add to this Bureau of Investigation Chief Yeh Sheng-mao's leaking of case information collected by the Egmont Group to Chen Shui-bian during the same period. The public can imagine how far the nation's justice system degenerated under DPP rule. The justice system had already lost its transcendent status. Even the "Three Heads" had been reduced to hatchetmen. The public believes the "Three Heads" covered up Chen Shui-bian's corruption. It suspects even the relationship between the justice system and the ruling government. It wonders why the High Speed Rail System scandal was prosecuted so haphazardly and why the focus was deliberately shifted to peripheral instead of central issues.
The "Three Heads" are responsible for the administration of justice. But by then they had become the president's accomplices -- tools for political domination and political infighting. Ironically, reports of Chen Tsung-ming's Chinese New Years banquet at Huang Fang-yen's house originated with then Minister of Justice Shih Mao-lin. Shih Mao-lin's report emulated Chen Tsung-ming's legal response. Shih Mao-lin's report naturally failed to mention his own presence on the premises. Chen Tsung-ming naturally failed to mention Shih Mao-lin's presence. The Control Yuan's impeachment notes that both of them were present. Leave aside the question of whether they are criminal suspects. Their reports alone are prima facie evidence of perjury. Are they qualified to continue serving as Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General?
It is rumored that the Control Yuan's impeachment of Chen Tsung-ming has provoked a "reaction from prosecuters at the grassroots level." Do prosecutors truly believe Chen Tsung-ming and Shih Mao-lin did nothing wrong when they visited Huang Fang-yen, just as the Chen Shui-bian corruption case was reaching full boil? Is it unreasonable to suspect criminal conduct in the Chinese New Years banquet incident? Is it unreasonable to suspect a connection between "imperial witness" Huang Fang-yen's flight abroad and Chen Tsung-ming's concern that Huang might turn around and implicate him? Is it unreasonable to conclude that Chen Tsung-ming's characterization of Huang Fang-yen as "an ordinary acquaintance" was unmitigated nonsense? The Control Yuan's impeachment was initiated only after the Chen corruption case reached a certain point. Did so-called "prosecutors at the grassroots level" really consider the impeachment interference with the judicial process? In fact the Control Yuan's impeachment helped rid the ranks of prosecutors of rotten apples. Yet so-called "prosecutors at the grassroots level" characterized the Control Yuan's actions as persecution of the virtuous. Is their characterization not just a wee bit dubious?
These self-styled "prosecutors at the grassroots level" are clearly a minority. Their perception is at dramatic odds with that of the public. Why don't these self-styled "prosecutors at the grassroots level" host a Chinese New Years banquet and invite all the key people in the cases they are prosecuting? They can assure the public they are engaging in "nothing more than routine contacts with ordinary people."
Chen Tsung-ming's attitude is no different from those of the typical criminal suspect. "You think I committed a crime? Prove it!" He is arguing that if there is no evidence that he committed a crime, then he cannot be impeached for attending a Chinese New Years banquet with Huang Fang-yen. Real prosecutors at the grass-roots level have encountered many suspects who talk tough but who have no leg to stand on. Does Chen Tsung-ming really consider his attitude following the commission of a crime something the public ought to emulate?
If the judicial system wishes to redeem itself, it must set an example for the nation. Shih Mao-lin, Chen Tsung-ming, and Yeh Sheng-mao are the "Three Heads" responsible for the administration of justice. Their conduct as individuals was questionable. Worse, they and the president were accomplices who undermined the nation's system of justice. Add to this triumvirate a fourth, Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mo, who helped the president lobby legislators. This is the worst example of an independent judiciary being undermined since the lifting of martial law. It is an example of the irreparable damage the DPP inflicted upon our nation and society during its rule. We still do not know whether members of the judiciary feel shame. They appear intent on inflicting material injury upon others. This is no longer a question of Chen, Shih, Yeh and their personal reputations. This is an indication that judicial reform has undergone catastrophic failure.
2010.01.21 03:22 am