Fury at fresh failure to impeach Keelung chief

By Adam Tyrsett Kuo ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Keelung Mayor Chang Tung-rung (張通榮) yesterday escaped impeachment for interfering with police matters, despite having been convicted of the crime by a district court, while the Control Yuan, the nation’s top government watchdog, failed to approve a second attempt to impeach him. Last month, Chang was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison, fined NT$2 million and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service by the Keelung District Court. In response, Chang insisted on his innocence and said that he would appeal. Chang was indicted last year for interfering with a case in which a Keelung resident, surnamed Liao, was arrested for drunk driving and attacking a police officer. Chang reportedly went to the police station where Liao was being held and demanded that the suspect be released. After the police officer in question refused to cooperate, the Keelung mayor allegedly slammed his fist down onto her table and threatened to have her reassigned. News of the incident led to public outrage, while Chang apologized for having created a “bad impression on society.” Chang, however, insisted that his visit to the police station was an act of “public service.” A Control Yuan investigative task force was organized in response to the allegations and examined footage collected by police. According to the task force, the evidence clearly showed that Chang was guilty. Members of the Control Yuan then attempted to impeach Chang, holding a vote in early July. Despite officials expressing confidence over the “imminent” impeachment, Chang was ultimately let off the hook. Several members of the Control Yuan expressed bafflement over the vote’s result. A second attempt to impeach Chang was launched, but the motion ultimately failed to gain the support of the Control Yuan.

‘Yuan of the celestial beings’ Local media blasted the outcome, saying that the nation’s top government watchdog had succeeded in cementing the “legend” of Chang’s “invincibility.” One commentator said that the Control Yuan should instead be named the Yuan, meaning court, of the “celestial beings,” referring to the apparent “aloofness” of its members. Control Yuan member Yang Mei-ling (楊美鈴) said prior to yesterday’s vote that if the body fails to pass the impeachment, she would like to be given the opportunity to launch a third attempt. “However, the Control Yuan has no such mechanism,” Yang added, meaning that a third attempt would not be permissible according to current regulations. According to local reports, the Control Yuan failed to impeach Chang the first time around because there were considerable “doubts” over impeaching a publicly elected official, as opposed to an official instated through national examinations. In response, Control Yuan chief Wang Chien-shien said that publicly elected officials can be impeached, but that as a matter of principle, he would not interfere with individual cases.