Tsai’s vendetta challenges rule of law

By Joe Hung

One popular satiric quip about dispensing justice in Taiwan: The rich get off scot-free, the poor get the death sentence (有錢判生,無錢判死). It’s a succinct way to say that the rich defendant in court is always acquitted, while the poor man or woman who is indicted is sentenced to death. President Tsai Ing-wen, who has read law, is determined to correct the wrong touted by that wisecrack. That’s why she declared at a preparatory meeting for her National Affairs Conference on Judicial Reform that no such injustice should be repeated. That offended judges. Last Wednesday, Taiwan’s Association of Judges posted a statement on its Facebook home page blasting her for “sentencing justice in Taiwan to death, albeit no solid evidence is cited for her judgment of guilt.”

Incidentally, the judges association is headed by female Supreme Court Judge Kao Chin-chih. Well, it may be the reason for Taiwan’s judicial reform, though not by the Tsai regime. Tsai had what is known as the ill-gotten assets litigation law railroaded through her Democratic Progressive Party-controlled Legislative Yuan to create the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee under the Executive Yuan to sentence the Kuomintang to death. All but Penniless If her order were carried out in toto, the former ruling party that held power uninterruptedly for half a century would become all but penniless to survive.

For starters, the committee headed by former President Chen Shui-bian’s lawyer Wellington Koo. Koo, acting like the Star Chamber of King Henry VIII of England ordered banks to freeze the Kuomintang’s accounts to starve its employees. Then, two major assets of the Kuomintang were declared “illicit.” The two, Central Investment Company (中央投資公司) and Chinyoutai Company (欣裕台公司), would be confiscated by the government, just as the Chinese Communists took over all private companies after Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The order was countermanded by a Taipei high administrative court decision, but the lawyer chairman of the committee issued a directive to the banks not to let the opposition party withdraw any cash as an administrative disposition. The confiscation is considered to run counter to the Constitution, which protects the property right of the people against seizure without proven evidence of illegal acquisition. The fact is that both companies were acquired before 1948 while the “Provisional Constitution During the Political Tutorage” was in force and the Constitution of the Republic of China had yet to be promulgated. At the time, the Kuomintang that ruled the country could lawfully acquire the properties left on Taiwan by the Japanese sent back to Japan after World War II. These lawfully acquired assets must be protected in accordance with the Constitution promulgated at the end of 1947. There was no evidence of condemnation or commandeering of assets in the founding of the two companies.

Moreover, the committee declared that the confiscation can’t be suspended even if the Kuomintang starts administrative litigation or files a request for interpretation by the Council of Grand Justices as to the constitutionality of the government expropriation. That declaration is grossly against the Code of Criminal Procedure.