A Morsel of Gruel in a Pot of Mouse Droppings
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
September 24, 2013
Summary: Those who view the case differently than apologists for Wang and Ker
need not feel helpless. The pendulum is swinging in the opposite
direction. The pot full of mouse droppings still contains a few morsels
of gruel. Such reversals of fortune repeatedly take place on Taiwan,
with ECFA, U.S. beef imports, and other political debates. Now is the
time for this to take effect in the Wang Ker case.
Full text below:
Wang Jin-pyng and Ker Chien-ming colluded in influence peddling. They were "two mouse droppings who ruined an entire pot of gruel." They were responsible for a constitutional rule scandal. As expected, they cast themselves as Wang and Ker, two heroes standing shoulder to shoulder, in an epic battle against an unjust political system. Suddenly, the public expressed overwhelming support for these two "defiant heroes," these "victims of political persecution."
News of the scandal broke just over ten days ago. For the first few days, there was little latitude to view this case with different eyes. Apologists for Wang and Ker successfully created an atmosphere that stifled all dissent. Many who saw the case differently felt powerless. They wondered "How can a morsel of gruel survive in a pot of mouse droppings?"
Finally however, over the last several days, the pendulum has swung the other way. Many of those who saw the case differently, like morsels of gruel in a pot of mouse droppings, are finally being seen and heard. This may enable the public to achieve a more balanced view of the case. Take three examples.
One. Hong Kong author Ma Jia-hui contributed an article to this newspaper's "Hall of Fame" section. He said that if the case had occurred in Hong Kong, the charge would have been "obstruction of justice." The maximum penalty would have been life imprisonment, the same as for murder. Two. Scholar Liao Yuan-hao noted in this newspaper's "public forum" section that Grand Justices Interpretation 331 states "(Central government representatives without portfolio) who lose their eligibility as elected members of their political party... also lose their eligibility as central government representatives. This is the intent of the constitutional provision for (central government representatives without portfolio)." He also cited the example of 1999 National Assembly Speaker Su Nan-cheng. Su was expelled from the party for presiding over National Assembly Members enriching themselves at the expense of the taxpayers. Three. Scholar Pang Ming-fai blogged that Wang Jin-pyng and Ker Chien-ming should assume political responsibility for their actions and step down. He said the DPP's attempt to topple Ma while rationalizing Ting Ker's crimes, show that the party "lacks any sense of justice." He said the DPP ought to take disciplinary action against the two men. Their "highest goal should be to sacrifice the least to protect the most."
These three views have reaffirmed the truth. Once the scandal erupted, four solutions were possible. One. The responsible parties could resign on their own initiative. This is inevitable in advanced democracies. It is the least costly solution for the public. But it is useless against those who feel no sense of shame.
Two. The two men could be subjected to criminal prosecution. In Hong Kong obstruction of justice would be treated the same as murder. The ROC has a "Legislative Practices Act" that expressly prohibits lawmakers from exerting undue influence in ongoing criminal cases. But it specifies no penalties. Remember the back room deals during the amending of the Sunshine Law and the Accounting Law? The result was no punishment whatsoever was specified for violators. Would a criminal investigation into Wang Jin-pyng's influence peddling prove money changed hands in a "quid pro quo" transaction? Probably not. Proof and conviction could be difficult. Hence the decision to resort to "administrative investigation." This decision led to oversights during the transition. Yet the Speaker of the Legislative Yuan himself alleged the "need for opposition party cooperation to pass the Ministry of Justice budget." He then proceeded to exert undue influence on the criminal justice system, on behalf of the opposition DPP party whip. Such political quid pro quo transactions are actually far more serious than monetary quid pro quo transactions. Yet our nation's laws specify no legal penalties whatsoever for the "murder of criminal justice."
Three. The Legislative Yuan has provisions for internal discipline. But given the political climate in today's legislature, expecting justice is a pipe dream. For example, the DPP took no action whatsoever on Ker Chien-ming. Instead, it rushed to Ker Chien-ming's defense. Instead of imposing party disciplinary measures, it asked that the case be referred to the Legislative Yuan Disciplinary Committee. Is this not a example of "There is simply not justice to be had?"
Four. Consider party disciplinary measures. Politicians who lack any shame are unwilling to admit to wrongdoing and step down voluntarily. They cannot be successfully prosecuted by the criminal justice system. Internal Legislative Yuan disciplinary measures are even less likely to yield results. That was why referring the case to the political parties for disciplinary action was necessary. Let us take a step back for the moment. Criminal prosecution could have proceeded simultaneously. But this is a major case that impacts constitutional rule and criminal justice. The political parties must to seize the initiative and discipline Wang and Ker as soon as possible. They must immediately revoke their party membership. They must prevent the two men from hijacking the Legislative Yuan for their own purposes. How can this not be a constitutional issue? Is this not something for which the price must be minimized and the benefits maximized?
Consider the preceding four choices. Set aside the possibility that the guilty parties might resign. The most effective approach is party disciplinary measures. It is the most practicable. The price paid by the public is minimized. Unfortunately the DPP has lost its soul. It no longer has any party discipline. It no longer has any rationale to offer. The KMT imposed party discipline. Alas, it was defeated by the Taipei District Court's "injunction." This in turn touched off another debate. Is the judge some sort of overlord who outranks the party chairman? Is the judge some sort of overlord who outranks the president? Can the court be permitted to jeopardize political autonomy? Can the court be permitted to intervene in party struggles inside the legislature? Have our judges even read the Constitution? Do they know anything about the legal structures required for constitutional rule and criminal justice? Have they read the Grand Justices' constitutional interpretations? The various political parties have revoked may peoples' party memberships, including Lee Teng-hui, Hau Pei-tsun, Lin Yang-kang, James Soong, Su Nan-cheng, Tseng Li-wen, Chiu Chang, Lin Yi-shi, Lai Su-ju and Simon Lin.
Those who view the case differently than apologists for Wang and Ker need not feel helpless. The pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction. The pot full of mouse droppings still contains a few morsels of gruel. Such reversals of fortune repeatedly take place on Taiwan, with ECFA, U.S. beef imports, and other political debates. Now is the time for this to take effect in the Wang Ker case.
2013.09.24 03:28 am