Special Investigation Division Disbanded to Protect Chen Shui-bian and Ko Chien-min
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 12, 2016
Executive Summary: The Tsai government is able to ram through any legislation it wants at whim, establishing new agencies by which it can railroad political opponents. It can amend laws at whim, and destroy a powerful agency dedicated to combating crime. The speed at which the Tsai government is expanding its power is truly alarming.
Full Text Below:
Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san gave five reasons why the Special Investigation Division is no longer necessary. He urged the Legislative Yuan to disband it. President Tsai Ing-wen has beaten the drum for "judicial reform". But her nominees for president and vice president of the Judicial Yuan were both considered unqualified. Now, lo and behold, the Ministry of Justice has ordered the disbanding of the Special Investigation Division, an agency dedicated to prosecuting the rich and powerful. Is this what the Tsai government considers judicial reform? If so, one has to wonder its seriousness. More importantly, does the Tsai government intend to expand its power and disband crime fighting agencies purely on whim? If so, the Tsai government is nothing more than another authoritarian regime.
The Special Investigation Division was formed in 2007 under the Chen Shui-bian government, at the behest of Tsai Chi-fang, one of the “Three Treasures” of the DPP legislative caucus. Back then, the DPP boasted how the unit would uphold justice and be a powerful weapon in the fight against crime. Even the president and the presidents of the five Yuan would not be exempt from prosecution. Today, less than a decade later, all that rhetoric has been abandoned. Now the DPP argues that the Special Investigation Division interferes with prosecutorial oversight and lacks explicit legal justification. Now it denies the need for a Special Investigation Division. One feels compelled to ask, if such reasons are valid today, why did the DPP not consider them before forcibly implementing them yesterday?
Back then Tsai Chi-fang proposed the establishment of the Special Investigation Division. Today his son Tsai Yi-yu is proposing its repeal. This reflects the capricious nature of Taiwan's politics. Probably no one considers this "father and son” saga worth recording for posterity. But why is the Ministry of Justice playing along with Tsai Yi-yu? That is the real question. Actually, Chen Chih-chung admitted that he asked Tsai Ing-wen to disband the Special Investigation Division. DPP Chief Convener Ko Chien-min denounced the Special Investigation Division as a "constitutional monster". He probably knows better than anyone who wanted the Special Investigation Division disbanded.
The Special Investigation Division was established ten years ago. The DPP may claim it has achieved little during its years in existence. But the public would disagree. The Special Investigation Division tackled the State Affairs Fund case, the money-laundering case, the sale of official positions case, and the Second Financial Reform case. It enabled prosecutors to convict ex-president Chen Shui-bian and put him behind bars. It enabled prosecutors to cross the sea to recover bribe money remitted overseas. It left behind a shining record of achievement. It provided the public with insights into the abuse of power by a corrupt head of state. Such cases can only be handled by specially authorized Special Investigation Divisions. Prosecuting them by means of the regular criminal justice system is simply impossible.
The Special Investigation Division has undergone its fourth change in personnel. Its performance has been uneven. When it investigated the High Court judge corruption cases, the Lin Yi-shi corruption case, the Traditional Chinese Medicine dealers and Dentists Guild bribery case, its record was examplary. But other high-profile cases remain unsolved. These include the 3/19 shooting incident. But the worst blow for the Special Investigation Division was the Ko Chien-ming/Wang Jin-pyn influence peddling case. The case involved rivalry between Ma Ying-jeou and Wang Jin-pying. Consequently the legitimacy of certain key procedures has been called into question. The green camp colluded with pro-Wang forces to strike back at the blue camp. Huang Shi-ming was prosecuted for the "crime of leaking secrets". The image of the Special Investigation Division suffered a serious setback.
The Chen family corruption case brought great shame to the DPP. Overnight, the green camp contributions to democracy turned to dust. It is easy to understand why the DPP despises the Special Investigation Division. As a result, three years ago, Ko Chien-min and pro-Wang Jin-pyng forces toppled Huang Shi-ming, and exacted revenge. But they were not content. Now the DPP wants to get rid of the Special Investigation Division altogether. As we can see, doing away with the Special Investigation Division is the new government's way to avenge Chen Shui-bian and Ko Chien-min. Is the Special Investigation Division a “constitutional monster”? If it is, it was born out of the green camp. If the green camp now wants to destroy it, does that not make the new government an even more frightening “constitutional monster”? How can such an attitude, "born of love, died of hate”, possibly promote judicial reform?
When news that the Ministry of Justice intended to scrap the Special Investigation Division emerged, Eric Chen, one of the prosecutors responsible for the creation of the Special Investigation Division, asked two questions. One. How will the rich and powerful be prosecuted without the Special Investigation Division? Two. Will Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san have the wherewithal to assume the role of "bad guy", and help prosecutors resist outside pressure? Both questions point to the same problem. How to eliminate political interference in criminal prosecution. The reason for establishing the Special Investigation Division in the first place, was to bypass layer upon layer of administrative and political interference, enabling prosecutors to zero in on the rich and powerful. Now however, the Ministry of Justice is invoking technical reasons for abolishing the Special Investigation Division, reasons such as difficulties with internal assessments. Is this progress, or regress? Is this reform, or reaction? Is this the rule of law, or the rule of man?
The Tsai government is able to ram through any legislation it wants at whim, establishing new agencies by which it can railroad political opponents. It can amend laws at whim, and destroy a powerful agency dedicated to combating crime. The speed at which the Tsai government is expanding its power is truly alarming.
2016-08-12 04:44 聯合報社論