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Jul 24, 2007

Amesty under attack after Professor's murder

On Jun 16, 2007, the Legislative Yuan "passed a long-debated commutation bill granting amnesty to prisoners serving sentences of 18 months or less, among other commutation measures. Although the pan-green camp supported the Cabinet's [12 months or less] version of the commutation bill, the pan-blue version was passed only after a consensus was reached."

And remember this part:

The draft bill proposed by the Cabinet called for an amnesty for prisoners sentenced to less than a year, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus wanted to extend the amnesty to include prisoners sentenced to up to a year and half.

"Eighteen months is within the range of the lowest degree of jail time by legal definition," KMT Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) said in a telephone interview.

However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator William Lai (賴清德), suggested that the KMT proposal was tailored to benefit KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅).

OK, we're all on the same page. The bill that actually passed was the KMT version of the bill and the DPP proposal was shot down, though of course the whole thing happened because of President Chen's suggestion. The government went on to set up a reaction center because everyone knows some of these guys, mostly drug addicts, are going to immediately go for drugs or steal to get money for drugs.

Yang Chen-tang (楊振堂) -- a mentally ill methamphetamine user with a history of repeat drug offenses and petty theft -- was released in the amnesty after serving about 3 months of a 6 month sentence.

Yesterday morning, Yang attacked an assistant professor of National Taiwan University, Huann-Ju Hsieh (謝煥儒), murdering him. This is the 27th offender going back to jail after having just gotten out, including 15 drug offenses and 6 robberies as well as 10 overdose deaths. This is also the only murder (so far?).

The immediate reaction, of course, was to blame President Chen Shui-bian for a law he proposed and the Pan-blue legislator passed after extending the amnesty terms. Chen seems to be the only one left defending the policy.

Ma today: "This amnesty was not benevolent governance, but poor governance."
And for reference, Ma before the amnesty: "The effects of post-amnesty follow up [actions by the government?] are worthy of consideration." [note he doesn't' actually say if he supports it or not.]

Professor and WUFI guy Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒): "This policy killed someone."

KMT legislator Alex Fei (費鴻泰): "Every one's saying an NTU alumnus killed an NTU professor. Who's the alumnus? Chen Shui-bian. I don't understand how he could used such a far-fetched reason [i.e., the end of martial law] for the amnesty and then make no preparations before just letting all these criminals go. ... Is the Ministry of Justice awake yet?" (Answer: Justice Ministry agrees they should have done more and will try to fix things now.)

KMT legislator Justin Chou (周守訓): The government's policy has resulted in the death of a professor and the government should immediately apologize to the people.

DPP legislator Huang, Wei-Cher (黃偉哲): "So far we haven't seen much support for the amnesty in our base. A lot of our voters really disliked it."

PFP legislator Lee Fu-tien (李復甸): Chen Shui-bian's pardon was used to just to solve the overcrowding problem at jails.

I find it revolting and somehow hilarious that every one of these guys voted for the bill that actually let the guy out and have found a way to leave responsibility at the President's feet. I have yet to see a single legislator saying anything that would approach taking responsibility. The closest thing was this, also from Huang, Wei-Cher (黃偉哲): "The blues and greens should not try to blame each other for this. President Chen meant for the amnesty to give people a new shot at life, not to let out someone so he could commit a murder."

TVBS will suck tonight.

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