Strong Leadership Should Not Replace Due Process, Rule of Law

China Post, May 2, 2015 | Go to article overview

Strong Leadership Should Not Replace Due Process, Rule of Law


(ProQuest: [...] denotes non-USASCII text omitted)

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je recently suggested replacing police presence with surveillance cameras in issuing parking violation citations at illegal parking hotspots. By utilizing cameras, Ko argued, the government should will be able to relieve overworked police officers who spend too much time patrolling only to catch illegal parkers.

Ko's idea was greeted with criticism from several judges and lawyers who pointed out that such use of surveillance cameras without warrants violates people's privacy. The most vocal of the plan's critics, Taoyuan District Court Judge Chien Chien-jung ([...]), said in an article published in a local newspaper that the proposal reminded him of Big Brother in George Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

The mayor's plan received a mixed response from the public. Some find his willingness to try to reduce police workload endearing, while others agree with Chien and see the move as ominous, especially in the Edward Snowden age.

If Ko's suggestion is problematic, however, it is the way with which he delivered that truly reveals the dangerous logic of the rookie-politician-turned-mayor. Ko's suggestion was made on April 28 to illustrate his idea that the law serves the people, not the other way around. Touting again his experience as a top surgeon, Ko said that the difference between a lawyer and a surgeon is that a lawyer only knows to stick to the text but a surgeon does not have the luxury of referring to books during an operation. In his most controversial comment, Ko suggested that people who only stick to the letters of the law "have sh*t inside their brains."

Ko's frustration with the law is understandable and is, to a degree, representative of the public disappointment with the government and the legal system. The apparent lack of appreciation of the "rigid laws" by a public official, however, is dangerous. …

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