United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 6, 2015
Executive Summary: For over 200 days, Tainan City Mayor Lai Ching-teh has refused to appear before the Tainan City Council. He now faces impeachment by the Control Yuan for "contempt of the system". Lai Ching-teh has lashed back, and accused the Control Yuan of "selective prosecution". He said the struggle between the Tainan Mayor's Office and the Tainan City Council was a "political matter" rather than a legal matter. He dismissed the Control Yuan's impeachment process as baseless. Lai Ching-teh has no intention of appearing before the Tainan City Council. But the question is, does the DPP really approve of Lai Ching-teh's actions? Is there no one in the green camp who can dissuade him from his current course?
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For over 200 days, Tainan City Mayor Lai Ching-teh has refused to appear before the Tainan City Council. He now faces impeachment by the Control Yuan for "contempt of the system". Lai Ching-teh has lashed back, and accused the Control Yuan of "selective prosecution". He said the struggle between the Tainan Mayor's Office and the Tainan City Council was a "political matter" rather than a legal matter. He dismissed the Control Yuan's impeachment process as baseless. Lai Ching-teh has no intention of appearing before the Tainan City Council. But the question is, does the DPP really approve of Lai Ching-teh's actions? Is there no one in the green camp who can dissuade him from his current course?
A statement issued by the DPP aided and abetted Lai Ching-teh all the way. It shamelessly twisted the meaning of the law to conform to the DPP's own rhetoric. For example, the DPP statement quoted Grand Justice Interpretation 498, is entitled "Local self-government guaranteed by the Constitution". The interpretation means that agencies of the central government may not intervene in the affairs of city governments and city councils. In fact the interpretation addressed central government respect for local self-government. It was a response to the question, "Are local government officials required to respond to summons issued by the Legislative Yuan?" It made clear that local government civil servants "must decide for themselves" whether to respond to summons by the national legislature. It did not mean that local mayors may ignore summons issued by local city councils. The DPP flagrantly twisted the meaning of the Grand Justices Interpretation. It assumed that the public is ignorant enough that it can be led around by the nose. What's more, Article 48 of the Local Government Act, states that "City mayors of Directly Administered Muncipalities are required to make policy addresses. Level 1 managers are required to present business reports. Council Members have the right to question them. Are all these obligations and rights to be trashed merely because Lai Ching-teh threw a temper tantrum?
Besides, the DPP cited Chang Tung-rung's lobbying and Liu Cheng-hung's use of eminent domain in the Dapu Borough construction projects. They argued that Chang Tung-rung was impeached twice without success. They argued that the Liu Cheng-hung investigation has gone nowhere. They argued that the Control Yuan's impeachment of Lai Ching-teh was politically motivated. This sort of childish evasion reminds one of students caught cheating who then whine, "Why me and not him?" They cannot prove their innocence. If a ball game involves enough players like this, it cannot continue. Cases differ in nature, and therefore the amount of time required for their investigation. Of course there will be differences. Lai Ching-teh's actions have clearly undermined democracy. Can the Control Yuan do nothing?
Lai Ching-teh took these drastic measures in order to force the judicial system to accelerate the prosecution. Lai wants Li Chuan-hsiao convicted as early as possible. He is using political means to manipulate the administration of justice. In his own eyes he is merely using his popularity to ensure justice. But from a local government perspective, he is abusing his power to vent his spleen. Interaction between his office and the city council has become a gladiatorial arena for himself and Li Chuan-hsiao. From a more elevated perspective, democratic checks and balances between the executive branch and the legislature branch are a centuries old tradition. Executives must submit to legislative oversight designed to prevent those in power from doing anything they wish. Lai Ching-teh has refused to appear before the city council for over 200 days. That means he has been operating without oversignt for over 200 days. He may even be making illegal use of municipal government funds. The Tainan City Council may be willing to accept this humiliation. But our concern is that Lai is undermining the spirit and institutions of democracy.
Stonewalling for over 200 days highlights Lai Ching-teh's sheer obstinacy. As a rising star of the Democratic Progressive Party, his high-handed behavior is utterly lacking in the spirit of democracy. Lai may have gotten away with his behavior in Tainan. But if he aspires to higher office, this is sure to become a political stumbling block. Why after more than 200 days, has no one in the DPP been able to persuade him to change his attitude? Suppose next year Tsai Ing-wen becomes president? Suppose Lai Ching-teh still refuses to appear before the Tainan City Council? Will she continue allowing him to do whatever he wants? Suppose personal grievances override the democratic process? Suppose governmental checks and balances are undermined, legislative oversight is paralyzed, municipal oversight is shut down? Suppose other county chiefs and city mayors follow suit? Will Tsai Ing-wen still view this as righteous behavior?
The reason we are questioning Tsai Ing-wen's attitude can be summed up in two words -- the system. A nation must operate in accordance with its political system, not the personal whims of this or that political party. Just because some netizens have deified certain politicians, that does not mean they can single-handedly destroy the system. Otherwise, how will Taiwan remain on track? How can it be governed in accordance with the rule of law? Tsai Ing-wen is an up and coming opposition leader. If she turns a blind eye to Lai Ching-teh's arrogant usurpation of power, or worse, openly abets it, how can people believe that Tsai Ing-wen will remain on the straight and narrow path of democracy?
Lai Ching-teh refuses to appear before the Tainan City Council. In fact, he is already in contempt of the Tainan City Council and all its members. In fact, he has already shone a spotlight on his personal vendetta against Li Chuan-hsiao. He is trampling over democratic institutions in order to settle a personal score. Actually, if Lai Ching-teh wants to teach Li Chuan-hsiao a lesson, he could take an entirely different tack. He could conduct a high-profile city council inquiry. He could explain his concept of governance to the people. He could use a question and answer format to demonstrate his rhetorical prowess, enabling the budget to pass without resistance. When entering the council, he could deliver a speech explaining his position, He could use the opportunity to embarrass Li Chuan-hsiao. He could even use the question and answer session to to launch an attack. In a democracy one must enage one's opponents in order to defeat one's opponents. As long as Lai refuses to appear before the Tainan City Council, not only will he undermine the system, he will also hurt himself.
Is the system more important? Or is the person of the mayor more important? Perhaps the system will never be deified. But the system is something the people can trust and follow. Lai Ching-teh views his impeachment by the Control Yuan with contempt. But what is he striving for, really? Does he want to go from being God Lai to Emperor Lai?
為由通過彈劾。賴清德則反詰監察院「選擇性辦案」， 並稱府會之爭是「政治問題」而非「法律問題」， 監院的彈劾並無根據。賴清德似仍無意面對議會，但令人好奇的是， 民進黨果真苟同賴清德的作法嗎？ 或者綠營上下沒有人勸得動賴清德？
甚至厚顏曲解法令以方便自己的說詞。例如， 民進黨引述大法官釋字四九八號解釋令，稱「 地方自治受到憲法保障」，市府和議會的問題，中央機關不應介入。 事實上，此一解釋令談到中央對地方自治的尊重時，是在答覆「 地方政府人員有無赴立法院備詢的義務」之疑， 認為地方政府公務員「得衡酌其必要性」決定是否赴立法院， 而不是說地方政府有權不接受議會質詢。民進黨「竹篙湊菜刀」， 居然也能拿大法官解釋令胡說一通，顯然認為老百姓無知可欺。 更何況，《地方制度法》四十八條規定：直轄市長有提出施政報告、 一級主管有提出業務報告之義務，議員有質詢權；這些義務和權利， 難道都可因賴清德一怒全部毀棄？
指張通榮兩次彈劾未過，劉政鴻案則調查尚無下文， 質疑監察院處理賴清德案具有高度政治性。這種推託法， 就跟學生犯規被罰卻辯稱「為什麼抓我不抓他」一樣幼稚， 無法證明自己無辜；而如果一場球賽有幾名這種球員， 比賽根本無法進行。不同案件性質各異，所需調查時間不同， 當然會有參差；而賴清德的作為，正對民主體制構成戕害， 監察院豈能坐視？
以期早日將李全教定罪；這正是企圖利用政治影響司法。 從他的立場，這是藉著自己的高人氣尋求正義的一種方式； 但從地方政治看，卻是他為了發洩自己的怨恨， 把府會互動變成了他和李全教的私人決鬥場。再站高一點看， 府會制衡是民主政治數百年的傳統，首長必須接受議會監督， 旨在防止掌權者為所欲為。賴清德兩百多天未進議會， 表示他有兩百多天未受監督，包括市府預算都可能瀕臨違法動支； 就算台南議會甘願接受這種羞辱， 但民主精神與體制的破壞才是更值得擔心的事。
作為民進黨的明日之星，如此獨斷獨行、毫無民主精神的作風， 就算在台南行得通，但日後若要更上層樓時，必然變成其政治障礙。 值得玩味的是，為何兩百多天來民進黨無人能勸他改變態度？試想， 如果明年蔡英文執政，賴清德仍拒赴議會， 她仍然會任他一意孤行嗎？ 而如果政治的私人恩怨可以凌駕民主到這種地步， 府會的制衡被葬送，民意代表的職權被癱瘓，市政的監督被關機， 假設其他縣市首長跟進，蔡英文仍覺得理直氣壯嗎？
這個國家如果不是依照制度而運作， 而是依照個人喜好或不同政黨之興之所至，或因為某些人獲得網民「 神」的封號就可以隻手毀壞體制，台灣如何能依法行政、 依軌道運轉？作為即將攫取大位的在野黨領袖， 蔡英文如果對賴清德的傲慢僭越視若無睹，甚至公開給予支持， 民眾如何相信蔡英文會公正、持平地走在民主軌道上？
他是在踐踏民主體制，以凸顯其私刑正義。事實上， 如果要給李全教一點顏色，賴清德大可以採取另一種策略： 高調進入議會備詢。在議會中， 他可以大方向市民說明自己的施政理念， 利用詢答施展自己的政治魅力，使預算案、建設案順利過關。 進議會時，他可以先發表一篇演說明志，趁機給李全教一些難堪， 甚至利用詢答對他發難。民主政治的法則是：必須交手， 才能給對手重擊；拒絕出席，卻只會破壞體制，造成自傷。
但這才是人民可以相信及依循的東西。 賴清德並不把監察院的彈劾放在眼裡，但他該想想：把「賴神」 變成「賴皇」，是不是他想要的結局？