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.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
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.
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.