President Constitutionally Obligated to Make New Nominations
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 19, 2014
Summary: The president must abide by the original intent of the constitution
when nominating Control Yuan members. He must strengthen, not weaken its
monitoring function. He must draw up a list of nominees satisfactory to
all, and revive morale at the Control Yuan. The DPP must control its
lust for power, and be willing to allow the president to fulfill his
Full Text Below:
The Legislative Oversight Committee has exercised its right of approval. In an unprecedented move, it rejected 11 nominees. So what next? President Ma must give this some serious thought. More importantly, the DPP must rein in its lust for power.
First we must confirm that the legislature's approval vote was conducted in strict accordance to the law. Legislators are not permitted to reveal how they voted. Lawmakers crossing party lines to reject candidates they consider unqualified is consistent with the spirit of the constitution. If a nominee is unsatisfactory, a legislator must not ignore the facts and blindly vote to approve merely because he is a ruling party member. Conversely, if the nominee is qualified, opposition party legislators must not oppose the nominee merely for the sake of opposition. If legislators think only about their party and not the constitution, if they consider only partisan advantage and partisan political struggle, if they refuse to abide by the constitution, then what constitutional democracy will there be left to speak of?
When a ruling party behaves unconstitutionally, opposition parties must demand that it abide by the constitution. It should not urge the ruling party to turn its back on the constitution. The legislature is currently exercising its seldom invoked right of approval. Eleven blue camp seats still need filling. The opposition is saying that the president should not even bother with new nominations. They are saying that he should leave the nominations to the next president, two years from now. This is truly absurd. It ignores the constitution, It represents naked power lust that cannot go any lower than it already has.
Here we must ask a constitutional question. Is the president not obligated to make new nominations? Answering in the negative would be much too hasty. Suppose the legislature does not approve of the president's nominees? Can the president really refuse to make new nominations, and force the Control Yuan to grind to a halt? The President is not merely responsible for Control Yuan nominations. He is also responsible for grand justice nominations. If his nominees for grand justice are rejected, can he simply refuse to make new nominations? Are we to understand that presidential nominations are entirely a matter of presidential discretion? If so, then as long as the president refuses to make any nominations, are we to understand that the Control Yuan, the Examination Yuan, and the Judicial Yuan must grind to a halt? Are we really ready to make such an outrageous claim?
The opposition is not merely saying that the president may choose not to make any new nominations. It is saying that he "should not" make any new nominations. Is this not outrageous? Can the opposition force the president to lie or even violate the constitution? Could it be that a certain presidential candidate hopes to neuter the other three branches of government once she is elected, so that she may exercise dictatorial powers?
We say the president must fulfill his constitutional duty to make new nominations. He should nominate candidates who will increase the monitoring authority of the Control Yuan. Only then will he be honoring the original intent of the constitution. Current political sentiment would do away with the Control Yuan. This sentiment derives from three main sources.
The first source of opposition comes from opposition to the five-power constitution, hence opposition to the Control Yuan. These opponents see the Three Peoples Principles as more important than the constitution. They find it difficult to extricate themselves from their ideology. It is not necessary to devote too much ink to them.
The second source of opposition comes from the executive branch. The executive branch perceives close monitoring by the Control Yuan as a thorn in its side. It alleges that close monitoring by the Control Yuan makes civil servants shirk responsibility, leading to administrative inefficiency. The buck is passed on to the Control Yuan. Some say the Control Yuan persecutes the loyal and virtuous. They share this view. If the nomination process is shot through with such thinking, executive branch bureaucrats will circle the wagons, or even intentionally abet executive branch law-breaking. They will attempt to weaken the Control Yuan's monitoring function and interfere with the nomination process. Actually, the Control Yuan does not have the authority to pursue criminal complaints. Impeachment is the responsibility of the Judicial Yuan Correctional Court. How can the Control Yuan persecute the loyal and virtuous? Many outstanding Control Yuan members were not renominated this term. Did executive branch agencies hope to be rid of them? Was that truly not a factor? If nominees accomodate executive branch attempts to weaken Control Yuan monitoring authority, that is at odds with the original intent of the constitution. The head of state is supposed to have an overarching authority to nominate candidates.
The third source of opposition comes from those with high expectations. They feel the Control Yuan has performed poorly. Therefore it may as well be abolished. This is undoubtedly an argument rooted in emotion. According to this logic, if the legislature performs poorly, it too should be abolished. The real message behind the emotions is that the Control Yuan must perform better, and the nomination process must be effective. That will ensure the effectiveness of the Control Yuan, and win public support.
If the Control Yuan is to investigate violations of the law, it will need sufficient manpower. In particular, the Control Yuan is rather similar to national human rights institutions championed by the United Nations. This is especially true when the justice system fails to do its job. The Contro Yuan provides a valuable backup. This is what was missing in the first round nominations. Now that the president is making new nominations, that should be strengthened. He might wish to consider prosecutors with human rights backgrounds. He might wish to consider legal experts familiar with the functioning of the justice system. Previous term Control Yuan members had a wealth of such experience, but regrettably they were not renominated. They are worth re-considering.
The president must abide by the original intent of the constitution when nominating Control Yuan members. He must strengthen, not weaken its monitoring function. He must draw up a list of nominees satisfactory to all, and revive morale at the Control Yuan. The DPP must control its lust for power, and be willing to allow the president to fulfill his constitutional duty.