President withdraws judicial leadership nominations

President withdraws judicial leadership nominations

Amid uproar, two nominees for the Judicial Yuan’s top posts have declined nominations made by President Tsai Ing-wen as an act of defending their names which have come under significant scrutiny after Tsai’s nominations in July.

The Presidential Office confirmed the withdrawal on Sunday, stating that, after meeting with the two nominees Sunday afternoon, President Tsai Ing-wen has agreed to withdraw her nominations of the acting Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission Chief Commissioner Hsieh Wen-ting and Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lin Chin-fan as Judicial Yuan president and vice president, respectively.

According to the Chinese-language Central News Agency, Tsai explained that neither Hsieh nor Lin had ask for the nominations, adding that she felt sorry for the two, who have come under fire and were met with misunderstandings after the nominations. Tsai said that her future nominations for Judicial Yuan president and vice president will still be decided on both previous practical experience and good academic records in order to facilitate judicial reform.

The president's nomination of Hsieh and Lin on July 11 drew a backlash from both the lawmakers of her own Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and dozens of local civic groups, such as Awakening Foundation and Taiwan Democracy Watch.

In response to mounting allegations of his involvement in past politically-controversial judicial cases, Hsieh stressed that he acted with conscience and never abused his power while serving as a prosecutor during the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) authoritarian rule of Taiwan. Speaking of his roles against dissidents in two controversial court cases, the Kaohsiung Incident, also known as the Formosa Incident, in 1979 and the Chung-li Incident in 1977, Hsieh said his duty was keeping a formal record of defendants’ responses to the complaints for the reference of the chief prosecutor.

The other nominee Lin Chin-fan also denied an allegation from New Power Party (NPP) Chairman Huang Kuo-chang, who suspects plagiarism in one of Lin’s scholarly journal articles. Huang noted that the article published by the Criminal Law Journal dated October 2011 under the name of Lin was almost identical as a study led by Dr. Chen Yu-shu of the Central Police University’s Department of Crime Prevention and Corrections in June of that same year. Vowing to “safeguard her honor and dignity by all means” in a statement earlier this August, Lin also held a press conference on Monday after the announcement of withdrawal and reiterated that the study was in fact coauthored by Dr. Chen and herself.

Lin also elaborated on her stance of a controversial plan to let the public participate in criminal trials promoted by the Judicial Yuan since 2011, saying it was her duty as Judicial Yuan Secretary-General to defend the plan.

Among the duties of the Judicial Yuan president and vice president are to serve as two of the 15 Grand Justices of the Constitutional Court.