Swirling nonsense cripples justice

Editorial | Mary Ma 22 Oct 2019

Excessive political tones surrounding murder suspect Chan Tong-kai are not only making a mockery of his offer to return to Taiwan to face trial but are also putting the island's government in a very bad light.

Can you imagine anything more absurd than Taipei's move to shut the door on Chan's return to face justice?

While president Tsai Ing-wen's pre-occupation with the presidential election may explain her administration's ludicrous act to keep Chan out of the island, reasons cited by senior officials like premier Su Tseng-chang and Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung were poorly conceived.

Hsu doubted it was Chan's free will to face a murder trial, saying it was against human nature to return to a place where he could be sentenced to death.

Obviously, Hsu doesn't believe in the human quality called repentance. While I'm not sure if Chan has really repented, I would not dismiss the possibility as readily as Hsu did.

Clearly, Hsu has yet to experience this particular human trait.

A ridiculous question was also raised by skeptical politicians over the timing of Chan's impending release from jail: why is he being released now - not sooner or later, but during this sensitive months of Taiwan's presidential election?

For sure, it's a conspiracy theory - but don't the critics know the date was not decided by the administration, but by the court? The timing was confirmed as soon as Chan was found guilty of a lesser crime.

It is totally nonsense to suggest that the SAR government had been collaborating with Beijing to release Chan not sooner or later but now in order to create a mess in Taiwan to affect the election outcome.

It's a misjudgment by the island to play up the political tone of the case. Even if there were implications, politics should still be cast aside to allow public justice to be seen to be done, especially in a case involving the murder of a young woman.

Perhaps Tsai's ruling team thought Taiwanese people don't care about the trial as the victim was from Hong Kong.

But they would be seriously wrong to think so since an instant online poll by a Taiwan media network showed an overwhelming number of readers believed Taiwanese courts should be tasked to hear the trial. Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu is also grasping at the newly found opportunities. If the rows over Chan's case continue to heat up, January's vote to elect the president and Legislative Yuan will be affected.

Even if Han is too weak to be a serious challenger, Tsai's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party would likely lose legislative seats to a newly formed Taiwan People's Party founded by Taipei City mayor Ko Wen-je and backed by local tycoon Terry Gou Tai-ming.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council insisted a mutual legal assistance protocol would have to be reached first, which infers Chan would never be tried there since the protocol the council had in mind must be on the basis of existing treaties between Hong Kong and other countries. Beijing will not agree to that in light of its "one-China" policy.

Justice should always be seen to be done. Regrettably, it isn't currently.

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