Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Roach King is now in charge of handling roach infestations

The hilariously unconstitutional expansion of legislative powers has now passed its third reading under the guidance of a hypocrite, an idiot, and a guy who went to jail for corruption. Seriously, this new legislation is the worst game of fuck marry kill one could ever play. 

Honestly, the best thing I can say about caucus Whip Fu Kun-chi is that despite being a sex pest, it's not even the thing he's most famous for. 

So now Fu, a guy so corrupt his name is actually shorthand for corruption -- is now announcing a task force to root out corruption. And there are still KMT and TPP supporters out there who don't see the problem with that. You can be sure, however, that his new "anti-corruption task force" will only target corruption in the DPP. It certainly can't go after corruption in the KMT or TPP, because the guy leading the task force is also one of the most corrupt people in government. We just put King Roach in charge of roach extermination.

Someone asked me today why the KMT would put someone like Fu in a position of power, if he's so awful. My response was "that's an excellent question, you really should consider why the KMT would do that." 

You could say the same for Han Kuo-yu, the presidential nominee who failed so spectacularly that he couldn't even keep his day job as Kaohsiung mayor afterward, who beat up Chen Shui-bian over a misunderstanding and actually killed a guy.

Indeed, why would the KMT elevate men like this? Why would it encourage them to pass sweeping bills extending the legislature's power? There are many possible answers, and none of them look good for the party.


And this is why one should be immediately suspicious of legislation meant to "root out corruption": not because taking measures to stop it are inherently bad or useless, but because such initiatives are so often covers for one political group or party to target another. If it reminds you of Xi Jinping's "anti-corruption campaign", which is barely even a cover for destroying anyone who might challenge his should. The two share very similar goals, and Fu's announcement only cements that. 

The comparison to China is perhaps apt: the DPP have been accusing the KMT and TPP of passing this legislation as a result of collusion with the CCP. I can't prove that the KMT and TPP have been taking direct orders from China on this specific legislation, but dissidents have said that Chinese agents do attempt to undermine Taiwan's democracy, and one even states that China did in fact plan this, or something like it. 


What's more, KMT lawmakers meet with Chinese officials openly and TPP leaders now lean strongly pro-China, no secrecy involved. Fu's recent trip isn't even close to the first one, and senior KMT leaders such as Ma Ying-jeou pretty openly work with the CCP and against Taiwan's interests. 

Frankly, the only reason I wouldn't call that collusion is because that term carries a strong connotation of secrecy or deception. Is it even collusion if they're not trying to hide it? I think the more appropriate term might actually be "treason", but you can be sure that King Roach's new task force isn't going to do anything about that. 

Some might say that the DPP accusing the KMT of collusion with China is baseless; I strongly disagree. I can't say the extent to which such an accusation would hold up in court, but in terms of saying it out loud, there seems to be plenty of evidence. In fact, I'll say it here: although the specific order to pass this specific bill may not have been directly given, the KMT are indeed colluding with the CCP to undermine Taiwan's democracy, and both the DPP and the protesters are smart to see it for what it is. 

Now that I've let out some of my anger about these developments, and I've finally got some free time after the protests, I wanted to look at some of the accusations flying against the DPP. The first is that they proposed the same legislation in the past, so they have no reason to oppose it now. 


As with much disinformation, there is a kernel of truth here (the best fake news is often at least partly correct, complete fabrications are less convincing). The DPP did propose legislative reform in the past, and some of their ideas look similar, at least superficially, to what the KMT just passed. 

Here's where critical thinking comes in, to indicate that there might be some disinformation here: if the proposals were exactly the same, then the KMT passing them now implies that they agreed with the core ideas. So why didn't the KMT accept them when the DPP proposed them in 2012? If the DPP wanted this, why didn't they pass it in the eight years they were in power? And if they still want it, why didn't they support the KMT and TPP in passing it now? 

None of that adds up, therefore, there are most likely differences between the 2012 proposals and the current legislation. 

For one, proposals and actual passed legislation are very different things. Proposals are almost by nature imperfect. They undergo discussion and revision and rarely, if ever, make it to law without major changes. Comparing a proposal to a passed law is at its core disingenuous. It's like comparing a clunky rough draft to a published novel. Higher standards must necessarily apply to the latter. 

You can read some of the pertinent documents in a tweet here. Although I can read Mandarin, my government-ese isn't quite sufficient, so I asked a translator friend to double-check (as I don't want to rely on AI tools for this). They do propose formalizing the legislature's investigative power, and do propose punishments for witnesses who lie or fail to appear. However, they do not appear to me to be exactly the same as what has just passed.

An infographic from the DPP outlines the differences between their proposals and the new legislation:

While it would be better to have this from an unbiased source, this is not bad. And this one I can actually read. It compares the DPP's 2012 proposal with the KMT's new slate of laws. 

The DPP proposal: 
- did not mention 'contempt of the Legislature'
- did not mention 'abusive counter-questioning' (these are both called 'vague' legal concepts)
- does not allow for 'continuous penalty'

The KMT-TPP bill: 
- allows the legislature to decide what constitutes 'contempt' or 'counter-questioning'
- allows the legislature to impose multiple penalties (this means they can penalize a witness with fines or jail time for more than one offense during questioning)
- allows the legislature to decide what is and is not punishable

So far, this is true. Nothing I can find from any of the DPP proposals mentions not allowing counter-questioning (although I've struggled to access the legislature's website recently, forbidding counter-questioning has been a major topic of discussion during these protests). 

In fact, I'd go so far as to say this first section is worse than it sounds. If the legislature gets to decide itself what is and isn't "abusive counter-questioning" and "contempt of the Legislature", and can impose consecutive fines or penalties for these, then does each penalized act count as its own case? If you wish to appeal, does each penalty become its own court case that you then have to fight? 

Because that sure seems like an excellent way to  big down people you simply don't like, even if you lose every case. It also sounds like a fantastic reason to fight this bill, and a major deviation from previous proposals. 

The DPP proposal also: 
- limits the existing 'document access rights' to previous judicial interpretations of the scope of the legislature's power (the constitutional court does outline the limits of the legislature's investigative powers, you can read it for yourself)

The KMT law: 
- expands the legislature's ability to subpoena "government agencies, military units, legal persons, groups, relevant persons in society"
- such power constitutionally belongs to the Control Yuan

This too checks out: the new bill does, from my non-lawyer perspective (again, not a lawyer, don't come at me), violate constitutional interpretation #585 above. It does overlap with the Control Yuan's power, and it's no surprise that now the KMT, which pretends to care ever so much about Sun Yat-sen's vision for the ROC government, is now discussing abolishing the Control Yuan.

The Control Yuan has also issued a statement. From Focus Taiwan

In response to the passage of the amendments, the Control Yuan issued a statement stressing that investigative powers are exclusively exercised by the Control Yuan under the Constitution and the expansion of the Legislature's powers violates the separation of powers.

The Control Yuan therefore cannot accept the decision, it said, urging the public to take the issue seriously.

You can read the statement in Mandarin via this tweet.

The KMT has tried to quell rumors that this new law can be used to subpoena just about anyone it wants and then punish them based on, well, vibes. However, that's not what the law actually says -- "relevant persons", "legal persons" -- these basically mean anyone. If you think they mean only government officials, you've gravely misunderstood what has just passed.


The KMT has also tried to insist this is an issue of "balance of power", but it's not really: I haven't heard many people say that the legislative reform is entirely unnecessary. As we can see from the DPP"s 2012 proposal, they're not against it either. The KMT would sorely like you to believe that the DPP simply abhors reform, and wants to continue with its corrupt, violent and dissolute ways, and so doesn't want the legislature to have any real power. But if that were so, why did they previously propose reforms? It's simply not true. 

And as for being corrupt and violent, if you want to compare parties here, I suggest you look at the entire history of the White Terror and tell me which party has inflicted more corruption and violence on Taiwan. Because the party that created a bunch of nationalized industries, appointed their nepo babies and crony mafia buddies to ineptly run them as thinly-disguised money funnels, and then committed decades of mass murder when the people protested it is perhaps the more corrupt and violent party, no?

In fact, the legislator who suffered the worst injuries was Puma Shen of the DPP, and at the protests outside all I see is peaceful demonstrators and highly-organized volunteers and civil society groups. What violence, exactly? 

Does this look violent to you?

According to interpretation #585 above, the legislature does have investigative powers as they relate to its functioning, and which do not overlap with those of the Control Yuan. I personally don't have a fundamental problem with formalizing those powers, as long as they are within the scope of current law and the constitution. 

This is...not that. 

In fact, until recently, I didn't really have an opinion on whether the Control Yuan should continue to exist, but now, the alternative seems far worse. This isn't a balance of powers thing, this simply gives a lot more power to one branch of government. 

Parts of it are, as Frozen Garlic points out, almost certainly unconstitutional. The legislature doesn't have the power to compel the executive branch, so they certainly cannot force the president in for a 'state of the union' followed by questioning. In fact, if they do so, can they then decide that the president is not answering those questions well enough and thus can be held 'in contempt'? Is this an attempt at an end-run around the difficulty in impeaching a president under the ROC system?

I don't entirely agree with Frozen Garlic's assessment -- the existence of the Control Yuan and the exceedingly broad writing of the legislation, especially allowing the legislature to decide what is and is not "contempt" or "counter-questioning" make me extremely wary of the whole thing. But he is right about the balance of power issue, and he's right that if substantive discussion had actually taken place, these issues could have been ironed out. 

He is right, however, that there are a lot of unconstitutional elements of this new legislation. It will surely be challenged on those grounds and much of it will, at least in my estimation, be struck down.

As we can see, the DPP is open to legislative reform. They once proposed it! If their proposals had been given any time at all in these 'discussions', if the bill had been examined more deeply in committee, and if the final version being voted on were more available to legislators and the public alike, perhaps all of thise could have been avoided. 

To be honest, if the DPP had tried to pass a law like this, including the broadly-written clauses that give the legislature essentially White Terror-like powers to go after their political opponents, I would have protested it then, too. Even if I had to do it shoulder-to-shoulder with KMT voters.

So the final question remains: clearly the KMT and TPP wanted this to be a public fight. But why? They must have known that this would arouse such massive discontent, that the outcry would be Sunflower-level huge. They know that while their milkshakes don't bring the protesters to the yard, the DPP can and does.

So why bring that on themselves?

Again, this is an excellent question.

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