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NCC chief merits no commendation

NCC chief merits no commendation

Yesterday's decision by Premier Liu Chao-shiuan of the new Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) government to award a "first class merit commendation" to outgoing National Communications Commission chairman Su Yung-chin was both improper and shameful.
The award was improper because the premier should not be responsible for awarding any commendation or imposing any administrative sanctions on the chairperson of what is supposed to be an independent and impartial commission.
Liu's decision to commend Su, a professor of law who is also the younger brother of the controversial National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi, shamefully endorses the NCC chairman's willful subversion of media reform and his disrespect of judicial judgments for partisan interests.
Besides the questionable claims of NCC policy achievements, the KMT premier primarily lauded the first NCC chairman for "bravely accepting challenge" in the face of "political interference" from the previous Democratic Progressive Party government in a statement that blatantly reverses right and wrong.
Liu may have assumed that all Taiwan citizens have forgotten that KMT itself was the prime target of media reform movements in the last two decades as since it monopolized radio broadcasting and television industries through the 1990s and still has dominant, if indirect, influence over most radio and TV stations, and until recently directly owned major broadcast media such as the Broadcasting Corporation of China radio network and the China Television Company.
Subverting media reform
In late 2005, the KMT controlled Legislative Yuan successfully subverted the hopes of media reforms for an impartial watchdog agency that would ensure media autonomy from political control and provide needed oversight to curb broadcast media abuses as well as regulate the lucrative telecommunications sector by rewriting the Cabinet's proposed draft NCC Organic Law in order to ensure that the NCC would mirror the KMT's legislative majority and be controlled by the KMT.
Four months after the NCC began operation, the Constitutional Court determined in July 2006 in its Interpretation 613 that the method of appointing the NCC adopted in Articles Four and Eleven of the NCC Organic Law based on the proportionate shares of Legislative Yuan seats was "unconstitutional" because it interfered with the Executive Yuan's exercise of power and exceeded the Legislative Yuan's powers, which are to set up and fund government agencies but not name their personnel.
The Constitution mandated this separation of powers precisely to prevent what the KMT did with the NCC, namely to pack the regulatory body with its acolytes to regain control over the broadcast media and the telecommunications industry and thus protect the KMT's own political and commercial interests.
Moreover, the Constitutional Court ruled that the introduction of proportionate representation by political parties into the NCC undermined public trust in the impartiality of the commission and its credibility in ensuring freedom of speech and diversity of expression.
The new NCC chairman, who slammed the Constitutional Court as an "evil force," not only accepted his post in early 2006 ignored the court's judgment and widespread calls by media and social reform groups for the resignation of all NCC commissioners pending legislative revision of the unconstitutional parts of the NCC Organic Law.
Indeed, Su and several NCC colleagues who refused to resign showed that their fundamental loyalty was to the KMT by obeying marching orders not to leave their post.
Su's subsequent performance stands as a sorry example of the imposition of narrow KMT partisan interests over the needs of the public and media reform.
Su's "outstanding achievements" included the NCC's reversal of a decision by the Government Information Office in the fall of 2005 to reject the license renewal of an Eastern Television "news" channel owned by former KMT lawmaker Gary Wang and its overturning of the GIO's decision to fine the pro-KMT TVBS cable network for violating the Broadcasting Law and the Company Law for refusing to change its ownership structure after being found to be illegally fully owned by the Hong Kong -based Television Broadcasting Corp.
The NCC's refusal to probe the chicanery and the lack of funding transparency in the KMT's NT$9-billion-plus sale of BCC and CTV to the China Times Group also ranks as a milestone in the history of the NCC and media "counter-reform."
In a final shameful irony, Su, who has refused to respect an interpretation by the Constitution Court for over two years, will now participate in a special task force to be headed by Vice President Vincent Siew, to vet possible nominees to fill four vacancies in the Constitutional Court that will soon be named by Ma and may well be named by the KMT president to the Judicial Yuan.
We believe that a professor of law who willfully disrespects a judgment of the Constitutional Court and so obviously places partisan interests above the public interest merits neither commendation or a chance to vet future Constitutional Court judges.


Updated : 2021-04-23 17:01 GMT+08:00