Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan on Friday passed an amendment to dissolve the Supreme Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigation Division (SID), established in 2007 to investigate allegations of corruption by senior government and military officials.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) used its majority in the Legislature to push the amendment to the Court Organic Act through its second and third readings.
The amendment, which will take effect on Jan. 1 next year, removes a clause in the Act that established the SID.
Under the original Act, SID investigations and prosecutions focused on large-scale economic crimes, activities harmful to social order and corruption or gross negligence involving high-level public officials, including the president and vice president.
After the amendment goes into effect, central and district prosecutors’ offices will be able to enlist the help of professionals from other government departments to prosecute cases formally the purview of the SID.
DPP lawmakers, including Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), said that while the SID was intended to be an impartial body investigating corruption among high-level officials, its operations since 2007 had raised questions about abuse of power, ineffectiveness and fairness in the handling of cases, which DPP lawmakers said violated its mission statement and deepened public distrust of the judicial system.
However, opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福), criticized the decision to disband the SID, saying it created the impression that the DPP was too tolerant of corruption.
The KMT caucus believes the SID is necessary because normal prosecutors do not have the wherewithal to investigate high-level officials, unlike the SID, Lin said.
The SID was established during the presidency of former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of the DPP.
It has prosecuted high-profile figures including Chen himself and Lin Yi-shih (林益世), a former Cabinet secretary-general and KMT legislator, for corruption.
However, the SID sparked controversy in 2013, when it was found to have wiretapped a phone at the Legislative Yuan while investigating a senior DPP lawmaker for alleged influence peddling.
Former State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming (黃世銘), who headed the SID at the time, was convicted in 2015 of violating the Communication Security and Surveillance Act by disclosing details of the investigation to then-President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel