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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Control Yuan reveals Ma as inept

Control Yuan reveals Ma as inept

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Late last month, the legislature voted on the nominees for the Control Yuan after a strict review of their qualifications, rejecting 11 of the 29 nominees.

The new Control Yuan, composed of the 18 remaining members, was instated on Aug. 1. After the gamble on the legislative floor, some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators were both excited and comforted after successfully frustrating President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also serves as KMT chairman.

Still, this kind of thinking based on a power logic is a bit like taking a temporary pain killer. As they vented their anger, the fact remains that the Control Yuan is more like an inflamed appendix. This is what real politicians should pay attention to.

The discussion of whether the Control Yuan should be abolished is an absurd part of the nation’s constitutional system.

The five powers system of the Constitution was forced on Taiwan and is inappropriate to the nation’s situation — it has undergone seven amendments to fulfill temporary needs.

A look at these amendments shows that with the exception of a few, which helped lay the foundations for Taiwan’s democratization, such as direct presidential elections and the re-election of the full legislature, the other amendments were made as expedient measures to accommodate certain people.

They have been proven to be flawed and harmful to the nation.

Taiwan may be trying to “cross the river by feeling the rocks on the riverbed,” but the current is strengthening before we have even crossed it.

The Control Yuan has a history of wrong decisions based on a lack of thorough thinking and complementary measures.

Originally, Control Yuan members were indirectly elected by “provincial and municipal councils, the local councils of Mongolia and Tibet, and Chinese citizens residing abroad.”

They were responsible for exercising the powers of censure and impeachment, as well as consent of the presidential nominations for both the Judicial Yuan and the Examination Yuan.

About the time of the second constitutional amendment in 1992, both the government and the opposition believed that Control Yuan members should be neutral and stand above party politics, local councils and factions.

The National Assembly passed an additional article to the Constitution to state that the Control Yuan would have 29 members, including a president and a vice president, all of whom are nominated by the president, and appointed with the consent of the National Assembly, while also transferring the power of consent of the personnel of the Judicial Yuan and Examination Yuan to the National Assembly.

At about the time of the sixth constitutional amendment in 2000, the government was about to freeze the National Assembly and the power of consent of nominees to the Control Yuan, the Judicial Yuan and the Examination Yuan was transferred to the legislature.

Looking back, this process was clear and transparent.

Replacing the indirect election of Control Yuan members with presidential nomination is typical elitist thinking based on the idea that the president is in a better position to select nominees from their vantage point as head of state. Therefore, the power of consent was handed to the legislature in the hope that it would provide a balance to the presidential power.

However, at the time of the seventh constitutional amendment in 2005, the ad hoc National Assembly halved the number of legislative seats to 113 and adopted a single-member district, two-vote system for a mixed-member majoritarian system.

The significant change to the legislative electoral system caused much controversy over fairness and complaints that not all votes carry the same weight, paving the way for a long-term legislative majority for the KMT.

If the party of the president gains a legislative majority, and if the president does not restrain his use of power, the state apparatus will degenerate into a tool for rewarding supporters, carrying out political manipulations and oppressing whoever holds dissenting opinions.

Over the past six years, the Control Yuan’s powers of censure and impeachment against officials have existed in name only, and this violates the original intention of the separation of the government into five branches.

Moreover, some Control Yuan members oppress the powerless to protect the powerful.

Even former Control Yuan president Wang Chien-shien (王建煊) has admitted that Ma’s nomination of obedient friends and major supporters is harmful to fostering officials with integrity, suggesting that it would be better for the nation to abolish the Control Yuan.

When voting for the approval of Control Yuan nominees last month, some KMT lawmakers disobeyed their party by rejecting 11 of the nominees in the hope that this would ease public complaints.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has publicly called on Ma not to nominate new candidates.

However, the Presidential Office recently announced Ma’s decision to nominate new candidates when the next legislative session begins.

In other words, he does not reflect on his decisions and insists on causing confrontation. His dictatorial ways show that he would rather lose the country than lose face. He is pushing systemic problems and his personal viciousness to extremes, and this is Taiwan’s misfortune.

Based on the assumption that everyone will degenerate some day, democracy strongly emphasizes the importance of systems as a means to prevent power from spinning out of control and to restrain those in power.

Power is the best aphrodisiac, and it is often said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Perhaps it is only after losing grip on power that the nation can regain a grip on its conscience.

Today, we can see the big problems of the constitutional system, as those in power are crazed by their hunger for more power. Since, in practice, Ma cannot be forced to step down immediately, the nation should take back power step by step.

Translated by Eddy Chang

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2014/08/07

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