Monday, December 15, 2008

Heritage Foundation Session on Rule of Law

Last week the Heritage Foundation held a session on the rule of law in Taiwan with some KMT legislators being the stars of the show. Here is a brief report from someone who was present.


Brief report on Heritage Foundation session
Monday, December 8th 2008

Taiwan, Democracy, and the Rule of Law: Ma Administration Perspective

The introduction was done very ably by Steve Yates, the former adviser to V-P Cheney, who had also moderated the session with former Deputy Science Minister Shieh Ching-jyh on November 25th.

The first speaker was Mr. Hsieh Kuo-liang, a KMT member of the LY. He mainly defended the present judicial system, although he emphasized that during the past eight years the DPP had not been interested in judicial reform. He has been working on a new anti-corruption act. He did emphasize that 150 police were injured, and one died of a heart attack two days later.

He stated that that the Ma Administration is not using the judicial system as a political tool. This is a misunderstanding, he said. He went into details of the transgressions of Chen Shui-bian. He also said that Ma was in favor of changing the Parade and Assembly Act. He also discussed the need for “preventive detention” and handcuffing, and justified their use in the case of CSB and others – except the case of Yunlin County Magistrate Su Chih-feng, where he said that in his view it was not considered appropriate.

Mr. Chin Jeng-shyang, a dour-faced prosecutor from the Ministry of Justice did make a Powerpoint presentation, but it was mainly restricted to organizational diagrams of the Ministry. It was a total bummer. He emphasized that – although the Prosecutor Offices officially fall under the Ministry – the Ministry cannot get involved in individual criminal cases.

Mr. John L. Chu gave a Powerpoint on the events surrounding the visit of Chen Yunlin. He presented a series of pictures of protesting attacking police, protesters toppling barricades, and what he said was Molotov Coctails.

He strongly emphasized that only 30 protesters had been injured and 150 police. He also detailed how DPP politicians had offered rewards for anyone hitting Chen Yunlin with eggs. He also said that during the past eight years, the KMT had always engaged in peaceful protests (which was later contradicted by John Tkacik, who referred to the violent demonstrations after the 2004 Presidential elections).

Mr. Chu stated that on December 4th the Executive Yuan did revise the Assembly and Parade Act, and that the LY held a recent hearing on the issue.

In the Q&A, Steve Yates first raised the issues of “preventive detention” and the videotaping / recording of lawyer-client meetings, and the need for handcuffing.

Then Therese Shaheen questioned the political motivation behind the arrests and emphasized the presumption of innocence. This was followed by a gentleman in the back who asked about comparing the system in Taiwan with others around the world, and in Asia in particular.

Gerrit van der Wees of FAPA then questioned the objectivity of the account of the National Police Agency, and pointed out discrepancies in relation to 1) number of civilians injured (the NPA said only 30 demonstrators hurt, while international organizations such as AI indicated 300 demonstrators hurt), 2) the egg/missile story, which had been stated as a joke, but then taken seriously by the Ministry -- this drew laughs from the audience (but not from the speakers) and 3) how demonstrators and legislators such as Chen Ying and Ong Ching-chu had been beaten up by police. He closed by asking whether these discrepancies didn't show the need for an impartial commission as suggested by Prof. Jerome Cohen, Ma Ying-jeou's advisor at Harvard.

They basically reiterated the point that the Control Yuan and Taipei District Court were investigating the matter and that an independent commission was unnecessary.

John Tkacik subtly reminded the speakers that the KMT demonstrations in 2004 had been violent. He also questioned the different application of the law, and referred to the cases of the (KMT) Keelung Mayor and the Taitung County Magistrate.

A final Q&A was from the Voice of America reporter who also questioned the political neutrality of the of the cases against the DPP politicians.

You can see the event at the Heritage website at:

The Taipei Times report on the event is here. It notes:

During the presentation at Heritage, Hsieh, National Police Agency Senior Executive Officer John Chu (曲來足) and Ministry of Justice Counselor Chin Jeng-shyang (覃正祥) were peppered with questions that cast doubt on their version of events, as well as a complaint regarding selective use of photographic evidence.

In what appeared to be an attempt to justify the actions of police during Chen's visit, Hsieh said he had lived in Los Angeles for 10 years and “I know what police brutality is and Taiwan does not have a police brutality issue.”

In his introductory remarks, and like Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) before him, Hsieh said several times that former president Chen Shui-bian had been charged prior to his arrest. In fact Chen has been detained without charge. Hsieh seemed confused about the detention and prosecutorial process, claiming a distinction between being charged and being indicted. When asked to explain the difference, he provided no answer.

He said that Ma had resisted attempts by his “true, loyal supporters” to interfere in the judicial system, and that the president “might have the power to tamper with” the judicial system but chose not to.

Hsieh also said the Egmont Group's report of data that pointed to Taiwanese money-laundering involved “Chen Shui-bian's family's money-lending activity around the world.”

The KMT is definitely on message: each attempt to point out any problems with that party will be dealt with by bleating again the name "Chen Shui-bian." A useful man, is President Chen.

UPDATE: Don't miss Johnny Neihu's hilarious rip of this.


Raj said...

Former President Chen, Michael.

The Foreigner said...

Hey Michael,

The folks at Heritage are probably pretty familiar with Bush Derangement Syndrome, so I doubt it did the KMT delegation much good when they demonstrated how deeply they've been affected by Chen Derangement Syndrome.

After all, the title of the seminar, was Taiwan, Democracy, and the Rule of Law, not The Problems the Chen Shui-bian Case Poses.

I mean really, the audience couldn't even ask the most abstract of legal questions without the panelists repeatedly prefacing their answers with some comment about Chen.