Political Reconciliation? Yes. Political Deals? No!
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
October 7, 2013
Summary: Recall this month's political developments. If all one seeks is an olive branch, it merely proves that the entire affair was politicians making much ado about nothing. The ruling and opposition parties must not forget. People are watching, People are waiting for this drama to end, so that they may finally discern right from wrong.
Full text below:
Speaker of the Legislative Yuan Wang Jin-pyng attempted to exert undue influence on the justice system on behalf of Ker Chien-ming. His action touched off a "September political struggle" which has persisted for a full month. An injunction allowed Wang Jin-pyng to remain in office. Recently rumors have emerged that the KMT intends to drop its appeal against the injunction. It is rumored also that Premier Chiang Yi-hua will meet with Wang Jin-pyng personally. Some are interpreting this as "an opportunity for reconciliation." Reconciliation implies the opportunity to resolve a political impasse. That is something worth looking forward to. But deadlocks must not be resolved by sacrificing right and wrong.
The recent scandal inspired ruling and opposition party efforts to topple Wang and topple Ma. Executive and legislative branch clashes prevent Premier Chiang from addressing the legislature. The situation remains stalemated. Moves for a no confidence vote, recall, and impeachment have also continued. Behind the scenes constitutional wrangling persists. The turmoil has forced the entire country to focus on this issue to the exclusion of all else. The government is on the brink of shutting down. The case is about undue influence on the justice system. But it has since gone off on all sorts of tangents. The original issue has been obscured. Now Huang Shi-ming is being accused of violating confidentiality. The president and the premier are being interrogated. These developments have exceeded anything the public could have imagined.
As a result, President Ma and Premier Chiang have extended an olive branch. From a larger perspective, this is absolutely necessary. President Ma's move to revoke Wang's party membership was fully justified. But party disciplinary measures could not be implemented. Therefore the nation as a whole paid the price. The public considers the harm to the nation's image too great, and the benefits not worth the cost. The public is concerned with economic revitalization. National policy must get back on track. The controversy must be brought back into the system and addressed rationally. If by dropping its appeal the KMT can help this happen, it should do so.
The random gunfire must cease before people can examine the issue calmly and digest it thoroughly. Take the influence peddling case. Ruling and opposition party legislative leaders have yet to make a quid pro quo deal. But the wire tapping transcript makes charges of undue influence on the justice system difficult to deny. The accused have so far feigned innocence. They have yet to offer any convincing explanation of their actions.
Worse, a number of Blue and Green camp politicians have attempted to shirk responsibility, by arguing that undue influence by legislators on the justice system is "standard operating procedure," and a "constituent service." This argument redefines political wrangling as a mainstream social value. If the public buys into it, democracy and the rule of law will be set back decades. Judicial independence will become empty talk. The justice system will become the exclusive domain of politicians, to do with as they please.
Another issue that urgently requires clarification is Special Investigation Unit wire tapping of legislators. The Special Investigation Unit argued that it "got the number wrong," and "did not listen to anything." But whether it listened in intentionally or unintentionally is irrelevant. Its actions made all parties in the legislature uneasy. It led to suspicions of Special Investigation Unit abuse of authority. This cannot be ignored. In a democracy the legislature is supposed to be supreme. Legislative supremacy is as important as judicial independence. Only a legislature free from fear can implement democracy. Yet the Special Investigation Unit inexplicably wire tapped the legislature switchboard. This not only undermined faith in the justice system. It reminded Taiwan of the dark days of the White Terror.
The ruling KMT and Wang Jin-pyng may reconcile. But clarifying right and wrong regarding undue influence upon the justice system remains essential. The KMT must correct the "first convict, then try" aspect of the party disciplinary process. It must also amend the law, ensuring that undue influence upon the justice system is clearly illegal. This will ensure that any power holder or elected respresentative who exerts undue influence upon the justice system pays the price.
Undue influence upon the justice system by legislators is currently punishable only by legislative disciplinary measures. The Legislative Disciplinary Committee must not simply go through the motions. It must determine whether Wang and Ker exerted undue influence upon the justice system. It must determine how they are punished. It must answer to the public .
After months of wrangling, Wang Jin-pyng has been offered an olive branch by the KMT. Perhaps he still feels some residual resentment. But he should examine his own conduct. Does he really believe he did nothing wrong? Does he really believe he did not cross the line? Wang has retained his position as Speaker of the Legislative Yuan. But Wang Jin-pyng must still face the music for undue influence upon the justice system. He must still offer a clear explanation and apologize .
The Ministry of Justice is investigating the wire tapping case. The investigation is in progress. We do not know what the outcome will be. But we must not fail see the forest for the trees. This case revealed that wire tapping is practiced indiscriminately. The revelation is staggering. Technical negligence must be addressed. Legal steps should be taken against the abuse of authority. Wire tapping regulations must be more complete. Only this can protect the people's rights.
Recall this month's political developments. If all one seeks is an olive branch, it merely proves that the entire affair was politicians making much ado about nothing. The ruling and opposition parties must not forget. People are watching, People are waiting for this drama to end, so that they may finally discern right from wrong.
2013.10.07 03:41 am