The Legislature and the Control Yuan Evaluation Committee Have Decriminalized Influence Peddling
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
December 16, 2013
Summary: Blue and Green camp legislators have been eager to repay favors owed to Wang and Ker. Over the past three months, they have used Huang Shi-ming for target practice. The committee has lost all objectivity. It matters not who repaid whose favors. The criminal justice system has been gravely wounded. Influence peddling has been decriminalized. It has become a dagger plunged into the heart of the criminal justice system.
Full text below:
The Control Yuan Evaluation Committee issued a resolution yesterday calling for the Control Yuan to relieve Huang Shi-ming of his post. That was not the most noteworthy aspect of the resolution. The most noteworthy aspect was that the committee found Chief Prosecutor Chen Shou-huang and Prosecutor Lin Hsiu-tao guilty of influence peddling, yet dismissed their offenses as "procedural errors" and let them off with a slap on the wrist. The Legislative Yuan and the Control Yuan Evaluation Committee have in essence decriminalized influence peddling. The negative consequences for criminal justice on Taiwan will be far reaching.
The influence peddling scandal erupted in September. Since then political considerations have reigned supreme. The Wang Jin-pying-Ker Chien-ming influence peddling case was swept under the rug, where it has remained. The committee resolution compared the testimony of Chen Shou-huang and Lin Hsiu-tao. It was the first time the full story has been examined since the Special Investigation Unit conducted its investigation. The committee confirmed that Wang Jin-pyng, Chen Shou-huang, and Lin Hsiu-tao formed an "influence peddling iron triangle" that pressured Lin Hsiu-tao into not appealling the case. This was more than mere conspiracy with intent to engage in influence peddling. This was an actual case of influence peddling within the criminal justice system. This was a fait accompli.
The Control Yuan Evaluation Committee press release accurately detailed the Wang-Chen-Lin influence peddling iron triangle. It concluded that such practices undermined the neutrality and independence of the criminal justice system. It concluded that such practices violated Articles 11 and 12 of the Prosecutorial Ethics Law. Yet the Control Yuan Evaluation Committee absolved Chen Shou-huang and Lin Hsiu-tao of blame. It said that because they confessed, therefore "administrative disciplinary measures were sufficient. We need not turn them over to the Control Yuan." It recommended that the Ministry of Justice issue a "warning." In the same report, by contrast, it revealed a hate-filled attitude toward Huang Shi-ming, utterly at odds with the tolerant and forgiving attitude it showed towards Chen Shou-huang and Lin Hsiu-tao. The treatment it accorded the different parties was like day and night.
One aspect of the resolution was particularly controversial. High Court Prosecutor Chen Shou-huang colluded with Wang Jin-pyng in influence peddling. He peddled influence with his own underling, Prosecutor Lin Hsiu-tao. Lin Hsiu-tao obeyed Chen's wishes. She changed her mind and did not appeal. The committee deliberately downplayed the two mens' offenses as merely "procedural errors." It claimed that their offenses were merely "failures to log their actions according to regulations." As a result, in the future any prosecutor indicted for influence peddling can simply argue that he or she merely failed to "log their actions according to regulations" and get off scot free.
This is where the Wang Ker influence peddling case now stands. Huang Shi-ming and the Special Investigation Unit have been punished for their procedural errors. President Ma's bungling further confused the issue. Before long, people forgot the real issue, influence peddling. Instead they chased after minor procedural matters. Add to this political smoke screens and infighting within the criminal justice system. Those who investigated the crime were labeled as criminals. Those who engaged in influence peddling were miraculously turned into heroes. Such developments were deeply disturbing.
Leave aside the personal ordeals undergone by those who were evaluated. One result of the Control Yuan Evaluation Committee resolutions has people especially worried. The resolutions virtually echoed Wang and Ker's political counterattack, verbatim. Their interaction essentially decriminalized influence peddling. From this day forward, those who wield power can reach into the criminal justice system and determine the verdict in criminal prosecutions. Officials within the criminal justice system can relax while currying favor with those who wield power. They can help each other settle lawsuits. Even if they are caught red-handed, there will be no serious consequences. They will run less risk than officials within the criminal justice system who investigate crimes with due diligence. This is the message that the Control Yuan Evaluation Committee resolution has sent the criminal justice system.
The Control Yuan Evaluation Committee resolution was based on an independent inspection agency established by the "Law for Judges." It covers prosecutors, scholars, attorneys and social activists. This is the first time it has been used. It is still experimental. Therefore it is difficult to judge it too harshly. But the resolution is biased in both its vision and its values. Observers have lost faith in its objectivity. Worse, it may mislead officials within the criminal justice system. It may create a rift between society and the criminal justice system. The danger this poses must not be minimized.
The Supreme Prosecutor felt that the Control Yuan Evaluation Committee has long exhibited a "prejudicial mindset." It long ago lost any objectivity. As a result its resolution was unreasonable. For example, Control Yuan Evaluation Committee Member Hong Tai-wen was Huang Shi-ming's aide. Therefore he recused himself. But other committee members, who were determined to prosecute, refused to recuse themselves. Instead, they remained and dominated the committee. This enabled them to take advantage of those who trusted the rule of law. They imitated ruling and opposition political party power struggles. The public television and NCC controveries have made such struggles commonplace. The Control Yuan Evaluation Committee's objectivity will now be suspect, colored as it is by Pan Green political affiliations.
Blue and Green camp legislators have been eager to repay favors owed to Wang and Ker. Over the past three months, they have used Huang Shi-ming for target practice. The committee has lost all objectivity. It matters not who repaid whose favors. The criminal justice system has been gravely wounded. Influence peddling has been decriminalized. It has become a dagger plunged into the heart of the criminal justice system.
2013.12.16 02:02 am