Ker Chien-ming "Interrogates" the Prosecutor General in the Legislative Yuan
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
September 27, 2013
Summary: Prosecutor General Huang Shi-ming was pilloried by over 20 opposition party legislators in the legislature. The ordeal has been described as a Cultural Revolution style "struggle session." DPP Party Whip Ker Chien-ming began his "interrogation" by referring to the wire tap transcripts. He then told Huang Shi-ming "You're a dead man." Huang Shi-ming was humiliated in the Legislative Yuan. That merely hurt his feelings. But Ker Chien-ming and other legislators' conduct, is a matter of right and wrong, one which undermines criminal justice on Taiwan.
Full text below:
Prosecutor General Huang Shi-ming was pilloried by over 20 opposition party legislators in the legislature. The ordeal has been described as a Cultural Revolution style "struggle session." DPP Party Whip Ker Chien-ming began his "interrogation" by referring to the wire tap transcripts. He then told Huang Shi-ming "You're a dead man." A legislator assumed the role of inquisitor of a judicial branch official. This trampled over the dignity of the judiciary. It also exposed the coarse and barbaric character of the Legislative Yuan.
The average person might assume that a lawmakers interrogating an official is perfectly normal. Therefore they reason that a legislator such as Ker Chien-ming interrogating Huang Shi-ming is perfectly natural. It is not. In this context, Ker Chien-ming is not a legislator. Ker Chien-ming is a key suspect in a criminal investigation being conducted by Huang Shi-ming and the Special Investigation Unit. His relationship with Huang Shi-ming is the relationship between the criminal who is under investigation and the case investigator. The venue was changed to the Legislative Yuan, and the status of the two men was suddenly reversed. The lawmaker became the investigator in his own criminal investigation. The inevitable result was an inversion of right and wrong and a travesty of justice.
Other legislators may question Huang Shi-ming. But Ker Chien-ming was a suspect in the case under investigation. He must recuse himself. Only this is consistent with his role in the investigation. He may not assume the role of "legislator" in this investigation. He may not take advantage of his position to intimidate those investigating him. On the very first day of the session, Ker Chien-ming mounted the podium to conduct his "interrogation." Altogether he mounted the podium four times to attack Huang. He even told Huang Shi-ming "You are a dead man." His behavior was a vivid illustration of his "I am a legislator. I am the real capo di tutti capi" mindset. He revealed his total lack of remorse for his influence peddling with the judiciary.
A legislator was able to "struggle session" techniques against those prosecuting him. He was able to brush aside his own criminal wrongdoing. What hope remains for criminal justice on Taiwan? If officials of the judiciary permit themselves to be cowed by flagrant intimidation and treated with contempt, how much dignity does the judiciary retain?
Ker Chien-ming's "performance" was not the only questionable element. The entire legislative process was biased in favor of Ker Chien-ming. It provided him with a bully pulpit. When Huang Shi-ming showed up at the Legislative Yuan, it was not because he was invited to make a special report. It was not because the Legislative Yuan decided to open a special investigation on influence peddling. It was because DPP legislators cited "unnecessary duplication" between the Special Investigation Unit and Internal Affairs Bureau. It proposed amending Article 63-1 of the "Court Organization Law," and abolishing the Special Investigation Unit. It demanded that Huang respond to questioning. This Judicial and Legal Affairs Committee question and answer session went on for eight hours. But the focus was almost entirely on the influence peddling case. Ker Chien-ming brazenly "interrogated" the Prosecutor General investigating his case. An endless swarm of Blue and Green camp legislators emerged from the woodwork, and rushed to his aid. With calls for Huang's blood, the Legislative Yuan turned itself into a "Surround Huang Save Ker" battlefield.
This spectacle of the legislature bullying the judiciary, gave people the creeps. In 2006, the Legislative Yuan amended the "Court Organization Law," and officially established the Special Investigation Unit. It stipulated that the Prosecutor General would be "nominated by the president, approved by the Legislative Yuan, and serve a four year term." the sponsor of the bill was Green Camp Legislator Tsai Chi -fang. Has the DPP forgotten that? In January 13 of that year, a Third Reading of the Bill passed. The legislature ringingly proclaimed that the Special Investigation Unit would prosecute even high officials such as "Ministers, the Speaker of the Legislature, and the President" for high crimes such as corruption. The media praised the move as an "historic step in judicial reform." Has everyone forgotten this? The Special Investigation Unit could prosecute even President Chen for corruption. Today it has merely tweaked a few of Ker Chien-ming and Wang Jin-pyng's whiskers. Yet the DPP is suddenly determined to scrap the Special Investigation Unit? Are Wang and Ker really more sacrosanct than the president? Or is the DPP helping the Chen family get payback against the Special Investigation Unit?
The Legislative Yuan brazenly provided Ker Chien-ming a stage on which to "interrogate" Huang Shi-ming. It brazenly enaged in political interference in the judiciary. The current legislature is clearly indifferent to right and wrong. It does not even bother to hide its public settling of private scores. How many bills affecting the public welfare have been shelved for no reason? Yet an "Abolish the Special Investigation Unit" bill specifically intended to help Ker Chien-ming and Wang Jin-pyng escape prosecution has been placed on the agenda and given top priority. The legislature's "aid corruption" tactics leaves people dumbfounded.
Over the last twenty days, amidst the tumult over the influence peddling scandal, the judiciary has remained silent. Does it really have nothing to say? Or do such political abuses warrant nothing more than turning the other cheek? Is the case nothing more than a political struggle? If it were, then the judiciary would be wise to avoid entanglement. But this case involves judicial independence and due process. People are hearing political rhetoric from only one side. They have no professional legal opinions to help them determine what is just. Under the circumstances, how can the public distinguish right from wrong? Huang Shi-ming was abused in the legislature. Some prosecutors have criticized Huang Shi-ming for not protesting to the chairman, and challenging the appropriateness of Ker Chien-ming's interrogation. They say he failed to demonstrate "grit." Their objection is correct. But they must not blame the victim. If Huang Shi-ming had protested, he probably would have had shoes thrown at him, in addition to being forced to resign.
Huang Shi-ming was humiliated in the Legislative Yuan. That merely hurt his feelings. But Ker Chien-ming and other legislators' conduct, is a matter of right and wrong, one which undermines criminal justice on Taiwan.
2013.09.27 04:48 am