You Speak of Justice, He Speaks of Compassion
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
September 14, 2013
Summary: The Wang Jin-pyng scandal has becomee a case of "You speak of justice,
he speaks of compassion." Wang Jin-pyng also refuses to admit to
wrongdoing. He too has hijacked the political system and incited social
divisions, all so he can evade criminal prosecution. Our society is so
easily manipulated by blind sentimentality and political gamesmanship.
Is this not sad? Is this not dangerous?
Full text below:
According to an opinion poll conducted by this newspaper, 67% of all respondents consider the revocation of Wang Jin-pyng's party membership too harsh. Nineteen percent consider it appropriate. One percent considers it too lenient. So far the public appears to be split into two camps. One camp speak of justice. The other speaks of compassion. This poll suggests that the majority of the public belong in the latter category.
Consider a past example. On March 12, 2002, President Chen Shui-bian visited former President Lee Teng-hui at Veterans General Hospital. Chen handed Lee Teng-hui a note with two names on it: Chen Kuo-tung, and Li Chung-jen. These two men were Lee Teng-hui's money launderers. Chen Shui-bian used this information, obtained during a criminal investigation, to blackmail Lee Teng-hui. Chen viewed information obtained during criminal investigations as bargaining chips to be used for political power plays and the blackmail of political rivals. He actually boasted that he "covered up 75 cases."
Now consider President Ma's handling of the Wang Jin-pyng scandal. Huang Shi-ming conducted an "administrative investigation," then reported the influence peddling scandal to Ma. His action skated on the edges of the law, but remained within the law. Ma could have responded in any number of ways. He could have contemplated the terrible political price he would have to pay, then simply covered up the scandal. He could have invited Wang Jin-pyng for talk, politely asked him to take a look at the Special Investigation Unit transcript of his phone conversations, then covered up the scandal. He could have done Wang Jin-pyng a favor, put Wang in his debt, then delivered Wang a stern warning. Instead, Ma chose to make the results of the administrative investigation public, then begin party disciplinary procedures.
The matter has provoked an uproar, precisely because Ma Ying-jeou did not cover it up. He decided not to cover it up. Consider the case from the basis of what is constitutionally proper. Wang Jin-pyng's influence peddling resulted in the loss of his official position. This was as it should be. Suppose Ma Ying-jeou had covered up the scandal because he feared the political backlash? Suppose he had exploited the opportunity to blackmail Wang Jin-pyng? The truth would eventually emerge. Ma Ying-jeou's reputation would then be irrevocably tarnished. The public would denounce him as weak, incompetent, hypocritical, devoid of any sense of right and wrong. A president and party chairman must abide by the law. A speaker of the legislature who peddles influence must resign. There is no alternative. Consider the alternative for a moment. Suppose Ma Ying-jeou had argued that a speaker of the legislature guilty of judicial influence peddling need not resign? Would the public not be outraged? Would they allow him to survive?
Most people feel that the revocation of Wang' party membership was too harsh a punishment, They feel that way because they do not understand how serious the offense of judicial influence peddling is. Recently cabinet officials have been exchanging horror stories about being pressured by legislators engaged in administrative influence peddling. Their accounts were chilling. But the legislators had plausible pretexts. They were "serving their constituents." They were "coordinating legislation." Should a Speaker of the Legislative Yuan be prosecuted for administrative influence peddling?" The answer may depend on whom one asks. But if a Speaker of the Legislative Yuan engages in judicial influence peddling, he has committed a serious constitutional violation affecting the separation of powers. There is simply no wriggle room here. The judiciary, like Caesar's wife, must be beyond reproach. Caesar may forgive his wife's infidelities. But constitutional rule cannot. It cannot countenance a Speaker of the Legislative Yuan using budgets to coerce opposition parties into being a party to influence peddling.
Wang Jin-pyng has considerable public support. The incident occurred just when he was presiding over his daughter's marriage. On the surface, he has contributed much to the nation's governance. His image as a "Go To Person" has impressed many. The Ma administration's handling of the scandal has provoked much debate about the human side of the issue. The public has divided itself into two camps. One speaks of justice, the other speaks of compassion. This case pits justice against compassion. Reconciling the two extremes is difficult. In the Chen case, conflicts also arose between "corruption and justice" vs. "solidarity with Taiwan independence." These two extremes were also difficult to reconcile. Ma Ying-jeou has repeatedly underscored the contribution Wang Jin-pyng made, along with his public and personal relationships. But the Speaker of the Legislative Yuan engaged in judicial influence peddling. Ma has no choice but to render judgment based on right and wrong. In the end, he must make clear that "I am the president. The buck stops here."
The lapses in due process in this case have been the subject of much criticism That is indeed something that must be considered. But party disciplinary procedures cannot be characterized as a "kangaroo court." What political party does not have party disciplinary procedures? The TSU recently revoked legislator Simon Lin's party membership. Nor can lawful surveillance be equated with a "White Terror." These are obvious distortions. One can try to change the subject. but one cannot change the facts. The fact is Wang Jin-pyng engaged in judicial influence pedding on behalf of Ker Chien-ming.
A Speaker of the Legislative Yuan who engages in influence pedding must step down. No lighter punishment is available. The next lightest punishment would be 1. a reprimand with retention of his party membership and his position as Speaker of the Legislative Yuan, or 2. temporary suspension of his party privileges but retention of his status as legislator. But constitutional rule and political practice preclude this alternative. To permit him to remain Speaker of the Legislative Yuan or even a legislator would leave a ticking time bomb in the Legislative Yuan. This is something that the "justice" vs. "compassion" dichotomy cannot reconcile.
Recall the manner in which the DPP dealt with Ker Chien-ming. That is the real reason the KMT felt compelled to deal with the scandal the way it did. The DPP was determined to cover up for Ker. Ker as a consequence, has become increasingly arrogant. Should the public tolerate, let alone approve of, a party that "cares only for solidarity, but not for right and wrong?"
Some people backed Chen Shui-bian because they "cared only for solidarity, but not for right and wrong." Chen Shui-bian as a consequence, felt no remorse. He felt no qualms about hijacking the political system, inciting social divisions, and inverting right and wrong. Now this familiar story is being reenacted. The Wang Jin-pyng scandal has becomee a case of "You speak of justice, he speaks of compassion." Wang Jin-pyng also refuses to admit to wrongdoing. He too has hijacked the political system and incited social divisions, all so he can evade criminal prosecution. Our society is so easily manipulated by blind sentimentality and political gamesmanship. Is this not sad? Is this not dangerous?
2013.09.14 03:41 am