TAIPEI–Justice Minister-designate Luo Ying-shay will face several challenges when she takes her new post, including proving she is qualified for the job and mending a rift between sparring units of Taiwan’s judicial system.
Luo, who is currently a minister without portfolio, head of the Mongolian and Tibetan Afairs Commission (MTAC) and governor of Fujian Province, said that she has no illusions about the future, and that serving as justice minister will be a tough, weighty and profound challenge.
“I told the premier (Jiang Yi-huah) that there are many other candidates more suitable than me for the post, but the premier still stood by his choice after an extensive review,” Luo said.
The longtime lawyer said she agreed to accept the assignment after Jiang asked her a second time to assume the post.
Criticism immediately emerged following her appointment Monday that she was not fit for the job because she had never served as a judge or a prosecutor, while Luo also said the lack of such experience was a major reason behind her initial rejection of the offer.
“The premier believes that I’m qualified … because I worked at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) for 10 years and had close contact with prosecutors and judges as an attorney,” Luo said.
She will become Taiwan’s third female justice minister in history when she fills the post vacated by Tseng Yung-fu, who resigned Sept. 6 after being implicated in an influence-peddling scandal.
Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang has been serving as acting justice minister since then.
The scandal has prompted perhaps the thorniest challenge Luo will face because of the rift it created between MOJ headquarters and the Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office.
Tseng was forced to step down hours after the SID alleged that he and Chen Shou huang, head of the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office, had urged a prosecutor not to appeal a High Court verdict at the request of Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng.
Luo was quoted by the United Evening News as saying that the bad blood could be resolved through rational dialogue.
“I believe the issue is not as serious as some people think. Judicial persons tend to like rational discussion using reason and logic rather than resorting to emotion. I think in this sense it will be easier to forge a consensus among all judicial staff,” Luo said.
On carrying out the death penalty, which has the support of most Taiwanese but has hurt the country’s human rights image internationally, the justice minister-designate said she would sign execution orders for death-row inmates if necessary.
“As justice minister, I must perform my duty in accordance with the law. I cannot drag my feet on things that I must do,” Luo said.
A report in the United Evening News said Luo, 61, has a good reputation in the judicial community and has been known for having a strong sense of justice.