Rule of Law in Taiwan? I don't think so

In Minister of Justice Chen Ding-Nan’s article in the Taipei Times last Friday, he asserts that Taiwanese society in general and Taiwanese students in particular do not respect the rule of law. I take no issue with this assertion. However, Minister Chen said that the MP3 case at National Cheng Gong University last April is an example of this disrespect for the law. I would argue that this case more clearly shows the disrespect of the police for the rule of law. A couple of points to remember:

    [*]The police did not have a search warrant.[*]The police [i]claim[/i] they were acting on the basis of an anonymous tip.[*]In the process of searching and confiscating computers, prosecutors had no way of knowing what data would be in each computer or to whom files might belong. The students said the search was a

Aye, there seems to be some pretty strange people in Taiwan’s justice system. How about the judge in Annette Lu’s libel suit?

He ruled that the Journalist defendant, Yang, has to take out front page ads in 18 newspapers (no mention of what happens if the paper – as is entirely possible if its anti-Lu – refuses to accept the ad).

He also – get this – ruled that Yang has to make televised speeches for three days on I don’t know how many TV stations, reading a statement prepared by the judge at no more than 100 words per minute.

Apparently, no-one laughed at the judge when he delivered his ruling.

Well, they’ve seen the judge’s statement now, timed it, and have discovered that it will take Yang TWO HOURS to read it – that’s supposed to be on prime time TV on three different nights, no less!

Of course, the TV stations are already excited about this, pointing out vociferously that if they were to accede to the judge’s ruling, they’d lose all their advertisers and probably all their viewers too.

Where do they FIND these people?

Oh, and they also worked out that in the unlikely event that he’ll actually have to go ahead with this, on Yang’s present salary it would take him 60 years to pay for the print and air time – as long as he gave up buying groceries.

One aspect of Taiwan’s law enforcement process that I find very strange is that every night on TV you can see the ‘bad guys’ that the police have brought in. These reports usually include details of their supposed crimes and shots of the evidence. Often the defendants are struggling to hide themselves from reporters!

Very exciting, sensational even. You might wonder why other countries do not allow this!

Clearly the reason is the police might just have brought in the wrong guys, or that some of those arrested may not have been the perpetrators.

That’s why even in Taiwan the police and the judiciary are independent. I’m sure the TV stations who so excitedly gave the defendents a good public airing at their arrest, don’t say so much if they turn out to be not guilty.

It seems terribly unfair.