Legislature adopts new bill to set up probe into shooting

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

The opposition-dominated Legislature yesterday adopted a controversial bill for the setting up of an independent body to look into the election-eve shooting, but President Chen Shui-bian and his camp refused to accept what they described as an unconstitutional law. Lawmakers from the “pan-blue” camp outnumbered their “pan-green” rivals in a showdown vote on a bill the former had championed in hopes of shedding light on what the opposition has alleged to be a staged attack on March 19. But the committee, which has the sole authority over the investigation of the shooting, is a “constitutional monster” that impedes the powers of prosecutors, argued the Chen administration and his Democratic Progressive Party. The Justice Ministry described the bill, which opens the committee to manipulation by political parties, as the “biggest disgrace” to democracy in Taiwan. According to the bill, the 17-member committee will be filled by members recommended by political parties in proportion to their share of legislative seats. It can exercise the power of prosecutors, and it can also enlist prosecutors’ service. Prosecutors recruited will obey only the committee. All government bodies must hand over to the committee all documents and evidence items in their possession related to the case once the new group is formally inaugurated. The presence of over half of the members is sufficient for the committee to hold a meeting, during which a decision can be made by over half of those present. According to the current political typography of the Legislature, the “pan-blue” alliance of the Kuomintang and People First Party will take nine seats, a majority in full control of the committee. Please see SHOOTING on page

As the committee will have to present a report to the Legislature and Control Yuan every three months until the truth is found, it means the opposition could turn the body into its tool for their never-ending power struggle against the DPP, as long as they stay the majority of the Legislature.

President Chen declined to comment on the new law, but Vice President Annette Lu, who was also slightly injured in the pre-election attack, said the law is in “serious violation of the Constitution.” Presidential Secretary General Su Tzen-chang said Chen and Lu are more eager than anyone else to catch the gunman. “But we do not hope the KMT and PFP to exercise the violence of the majority and impinge on the judicial rights,” said Su. He said the Cabinet will seek to overturn the law, and at the same will also ask the Council of Grand Justices to settle the dispute. DPP Deputy Secretary General Chung Chia-pin said the party will boycott the committee, refusing to recommend members. “The bill directly violates prosecutors’ legal rights … and turns people without legal background into prosecutors,” the Ministry of Justice said.

“It creates an unprecedented constitutional monster and allows parties to openly intervene in a judicial investigation … The passage of the bill is no doubt the biggest disgrace to democracy and the rule of law.” It pointed out that with by giving the committee unconstitutional powers the opposition is actually trying to dictate the court’s ruling.

“This is the darkest day of the Legislature,” lamented DPP whip Ker Chien-min. “The ‘pan blue’-dominated committee will be able to manufacture a truth that its untrue.” Another DPP whip Lee Chun-yi described the committee as a tool for perennial political struggle, while DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung said President Chen would fall victim to unfair decisions by the committee. “I can foresee that the committee will vote to put President Chen to a lie-detector test, vote to decide that he is lying, vote to bar him from leaving the country, and vote submit him to impeachment,” said Legislator Lee.