On the constitutional crisis by DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chun

Photo Credit: Jiang@Wikicommons

The Legislative Yuan must engage in a constitutional fight with a president that has chosen to violate the Constitution

By Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (Democratic Progressive Party, DPP)

The latest scandal concerning the president’s abuse of power to oust the legislative speaker [from his own party] has created a crisis in Taiwan’s constitutional democracy. When the society turns its focus on the political disputes between political figures, we are concerned that Taiwan’s political and constitutional democracy has been damaged beyond what everyone has imagined.

The majority knows that Ma Ying-jeou wanted to force Legislative Speaker Wan Jin-pyng out for reasons related to the Cross Strait Services Trade Agreement and the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant referendum, all of which have not been able to pass through opposition voices and delays within the legislative body. There are also other upcoming policies that could prove factor changing for the administration, such as cross strait follow-up product trade agreements, a peace agreement and other cross strait related policies. For such reasons, without even waiting for the judiciary to handle the alleged illegal lobbying case, the president intervened into the judicial process to engage in his own political infighting, removing the legislative speaker and sending out warnings to others at the same time. The president also issued press statements praising the Legislative Yuan as though he was taking over the jurisdiction of this body.

Since when has our legislative body become part of the presidential system? In the current constitutional system, there is only one power of authority granted to the president, which takes place when there is an en-masse resignation of the Legislative Yuan, allowing the president to dismiss the legislature. The independent power of our legislature is also described by the Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 342 (http://www.judicial.gov.tw/constitutionalcourt/EN/p03_01.asp?expno=342).

Now, Ma Ying-jeou, concurrently serving as the president of the R.O.C. and chair of the KMT party, is creating political disputes, abusing his power to force the legislative speaker out, destroying the principle of the three divisions of powers in a constitutional democracy. This has already caused a serious constitutional crisis, transforming Taiwan from a democratic country to that of being run by an administrative dictatorship!

In reality, if there was a case of illegal lobbying, from the political responsibility point of view, this must be handled by the constitutional power given by the principles of the Legislative Yuan of being an autonomous and self-governing domain. Whether or not any member of this body should be investigated, it must be collectively decided by the members of the Legislative Yuan. From the legal perspective, the judiciary is the one in charge on determining whether the case should be pursued. No matter what, it is not acceptable that a prosecutor visited the presidential quarters in the middle of the night and afterward, the president took the matter in his own hands and went beyond his power or duty to hold press conferences and make decisions without any consultation with the other bodies.

This is not just a simple case in which the leader of the country must exercise self-restraint or a case in which the president is simply expressing his opinion concerning a legislative and a judicial case. This is clearly a case in which “the legislative power has been encroached on by the administrative power”, and the “administrative power encroaching on the judicial process”.

President Ma’s actions are definitely a bad precedent to constitutional rights extended by Taiwan’s democratic history. In the present constitutional theory of modern politics, the greatest cause of worry is the collapse of a new democracy by constitutional dictatorship, which could turn into a nightmare we don’t want to live in. If this were to happen, the legislative body could be controlled by the administrative power and Ma Ying-jeou can solely determine the future development of Taiwan, including cross strait issues. This leaves us with absolute great worry.

In regards to the alleged illegal lobbying case, this must be handled by the autonomous power of the legislative and judicial bodies. The legislative power cannot be pushed aside and the independence of the judiciary cannot be used as tools for political infighting. The Legislative Yuan must now set out to defend its autonomy and independence to fulfill its constitutional duties, and it must deter Ma Ying-jeou from continuing to disregard and encroach on the legislative and judicial process.

Regardless of political party affiliation, legislative members must exhaust all constitutional channels, including immediately passing a legislative condemnation, request explanations from the higher courts and, according to constitutional law, review the regulation regarding impeachment of the president. Lastly, we must consider taking a step further in impeaching the president as well as request the resignation of the cabinet in order to fight against Ma Ying-jeou’s actions violating the Constitution.

Originally published in Mandarin at http://www.thinkingtaiwan.com/articles/view/1234