The jarring disconnect between the praise of US-based analysts for the competence of KMT President Ma Ying-jeou, and the perception here in Taiwan of Ma's performance, was once again thrown into sharp relief this week.
First came the report written above by several well-known US analysts, several of whom have business connections to China, which describes Ma as "capable." Meanwhile, here on earth, Ma once again demonstrated to the public his twin virtues of incompetence and arrogance. The case also shows how underlings take the fall here -- remember when Ma was busted for downloading government funds to his private account, and then an aide went to prison? But not him.....
It seems that Ma nominated for the Council of Grand Justices (the Constitutional Court) Supreme Court Judge Shao Yen-ling (邵燕玲)....
Shao caused a stir last year when she overruled a Taiwan High Court verdict in a sexual assault case on the grounds that the court could not prove a three-year-old girl had been sexually assaulted against her will because she had not resisted strongly enough.The case caused a ruckus at the time over "dinosaur judges" and will hopefully lead to changes in the law. I expect the judge's intention in this bizarre ruling was to call intention to the outmoded law, though I do not know of any statement from Judge Shao or anyone else to that effect.
It seems incredible, though, that this nominee's prior case history was unknown to the vetting committee. Do they not have Google in the Presidential vetting office? The Taipei Times noted in an editorial:
The Judicial Yuan chief said he was aware of the case but not fully cognizant of the weight of public opinion. He stated that his goal was to find a qualified female nominee.
Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), who led the task force that came up with candidates for the four grand justice seats that will be vacant in the fall, said his group spent 18 days drawing up a list of 32 potential candidates and short-listed nine of them for Ma, who then picked the final four. Both Ma and Siew have apologized for Shao’s nomination, although the president said on his Facebook page that he did not learn about the controversy surrounding Shao until Thursday morning.
Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) hedged when pressed about how Shao’s name made it onto the shortlist and whether Ma had been aware of her ruling that aroused such outrage. It’s hard to believe the denials given the Presidential Office statement issued on Sept. 25 last year, when thousands of people rallied in front of it on Ketagalan Boulevard in a protest organized by the “White Rose Movement” against incompetent judges. Ma had heard the movement’s call, the statement said, and would push for the swift passage of a draft bill to regulate the certification, performance and ethics of judges, as well as tougher penalties for child molesters.
Ma of course disavowed all knowledge of this case, and poor Vice President Siew was paraded out to claim that President Ma had not been properly informed and to offer an apology.
Siew, who led the task force responsible for examining the nominees’ qualifications, also joined Ma at the press conference yesterday and apologized again for failing to provide sufficient information to Ma.President Ma himself, not to be outdone on the apology front, offered the public this apology, vintage Ma, delivered through gritted teeth. It reads like a non-apology apology and contains a subtle put-down of the public:
“I want to apologize again for the nomination process … The process was not thorough because we only considered the nominees’ expertise and integrity. The government should never break away from public opinion and social perception,” Ma said in a press conference at the Presidential Office.Note how this makes a sharp distinction between the government's process and the public's vetting of the nominee: We stand by this judge who was objectively qualified. Your objections are simply a matter of opinion and perception. STFU and quit interfering in the process with your illegitimate opinions! We "only" considered the expertise and integrity... that "only" verges on nasty sarcasm.
Any way you parse it, Ma will take a hit for this lunatic choice. The DPP had a field day, of course. You have to wonder whether the announcement that 36,000 documents had gone missing under the previous DPP Administration was timed to blunt the impact of the politically inept move of appointing this particular judge to a high seat.
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