Share this

Dec 10, 2008

Mounds of horse dodo


Stay classy, Legislative Yuan!

A proposal to amend the Public Officials Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) is on the agenda. The idea is to amend Article 127, which would annul an election after an unsuccessful second appeal instead of after an unsuccessful first appeal, as is the case now.

If the amendment were passed, it would allow elected officials suspected of vote-buying to serve out their terms as their cases drag on from one trial to another. The law as it stands is a thorn in the side of corrupt legislators, with its so-called “blitzkrieg clause” requiring that the verdict after the first appeal be final, and that the duration of each trial be limited to six months.

The effectiveness of the existing law can be seen from the fact that, among officials elected in 2005, 37 city and county councilors have been removed from their posts and replaced by runner-up candidates, while 14 city mayors, county commissioners and township mayors have been dismissed and replaced in by-elections.

If the law is not amended, the 18 legislators and defeated candidates who are facing criminal charges will see their cases move to an appeal. If their convictions are upheld, the unsuccessful candidates will go to prison immediately, while those elected will be removed from their seats and then go to jail.

If the Act is changed so that cases limited to two trials are allowed one more appeal, the example of former Taichung City Council speaker Kuo Yen-sheng (郭晏生), which has dragged on for 13 years after he was accused of irregularities in 1995, will be commonplace. If vote-buying cases against elected officials cannot be resolved within their term of office, there would be little point in investigating anyone.
========================

Also, I remember seeing a shitty editorial in UDN a few weeks ago arguing that Japan, Germany and the US all have pre-trial detention systems, and there's nothing wrong with Taiwan's! Of course, the writer missed the main point -- that you have to charge someone with a crime before you can detain them in democratic countries (though there are 24-hour exceptions in most US states).

Imagine my surprise when President Ma Ying-jeou made the same empty, misleading, even horrific argument today.
While some have argued that the pre-trial detention of criminal suspects is a violation of human rights, Ma pointed out that a similar system has been in practice in the United States since 1984 to prevent criminal suspects from committing other crimes before trial, running away or colluding with other co-conspirators.

In Taiwan, prosecutors are required to obtain permission from a court before taking any criminal suspects into custody, and in Chen's case, the court only made a decision after a nine-hour session, which showed how carefully considered the decision was, Ma said.
Mr. Harvard-educated Ma "my law degree is worthless" Ying-jeou also fails to notice that United States Code, Title 18, Sections 3141-3150 did not create a bail system in 1984, but just expanded the list of considerations the court made to include security factors. Bail has been around in the US since the colonial period, and since the middle ages in England. And habeas corpus has always long been integral English and American law.

I'm just infuriated by Ma's argument.

========================

Haitien notes in comments:
The LY is also in the process of neutering the Public Television Service by subjecting its budget approval to "operational oversight" of individual programs, and increasing its governing board by 6 members.

PTS was one of the few media organs in Taiwan to not participate in the tabloid journalism that characterizes most of the mainstream media, and actually did some quality independent reporting. Gonna miss it.

11 comments:

Haitien said...

The LY is also in the process of neutering the Public Television Service by subjecting its budget approval to "operational oversight" of individual programs, and increasing its governing board by 6 members.

PTS was one of the few media organs in Taiwan to not participate in the tabloid journalism that characterizes most of the mainstream media, and actually did some quality independent reporting. Gonna miss it.

阿牛 said...

Thanks for noting that, i've copied it into the post with a hat tip.

D. Corey Sanderson said...

Sadly, it seems the phrase "gonna miss it" will be one with which we make great friends. *sigh*

STOP Ma said...

.
.
.
Little by little, the KMT are ripping apart democracy in Taiwan. This is nothing new.

I have to point out, A-gu, that the U.S. does hold prisoners without charge. It's called "Guantanamo Bay".

The U.S. congress also sacrificed "Habeus Corpus" a few years back in 2006. It was called "The Military Commission’s Act"
.
.
.

阿牛 said...

SM,

These are both very good points, and I'm horrified by Bush's shreading of the constitution on this front, but at least the courts have agreed waht he's doing is illegal.

STOP Ma said...

.
.
.

A-gu,

The courts stated what he was doing was illegal, but then congress went ahead and dropped Habeus Corpus.

It wasn't just Bush. He had the help from Congress and the Senate. And to this day, the Bush administration is not being held accountable for their war crimes and constitutional crimes.

Of course, no blow-job was committed.
.
.
.

Thomas said...

I always take exception with the Guantanamo Bay example.

1) Whether the detentions there are correct or not, they don't affect the general American population. The rights of Americans within the US have not been affected. (Technically, GB is not a part of the US. It is "leased" from Cuba (against Cuba's wishes) and the US recognises Cuba's sovereignty -- odd, huh?) To be be parallel to the Taiwan issue, the human rights abuses would have to apply to the American populace. I am not attempting to downplay the severity of GB. I am only saying that A Gu was not entirely wrong. Whatever the courts or Congress have done, the rights of the American population have not really been affected by GB.

2) Two wrongs don't make a right.

阿牛 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
阿牛 said...

I want to agree with Thomas that two wrongs don't make a right, and I also don't want the comments to have to turn into a discussion defending an undefendable American practice. But there have been effects on the American population: see Jose Padilla, who was also declared an enemy combatant and stripped of due process.

Congress is guilty too; but habeas corpushas been "restored" by the Supreme Court (June of this year).

STOP Ma said...

.
.
.
...the rights of the American population have not really been affected by GB.

Would you like another biggie, Thomas? Ok. Two words.

Illegal Wiretapping.

And let's not forget the patriot acts that were not exactly the hallmark of upholding civil liberties.

You've got to be wearing a blindfold to not have noticed how damaging the Bush administration was to the liberty of the average American.

And A-gu -- I stand corrected. So much damage has been done by the Bush administration that I forgot that the Supreme Court actually did save Habeas Corpus.
.
.
.

STOP Ma said...

.
.
.
Thomas,

I encourage you to watch this segment from Democracy now where journalist Michael Isikoff explains what happened to the man who blew the whistle on the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping program.

The Fed who Blew the Whistle
.
.
.