Taiwan Government & International Affairs in Brief – October 2016

When in Rome - Vice President Chen Chienren (right) with Vatican State Councilor Palo Lin while attending the canonization ceremony of Mother Theresa. (Photo: CNA)
When in Rome - Vice President Chen Chienren (right) with Vatican State Councilor Palo Lin while attending the canonization ceremony of Mother Theresa. (Photo: CNA)

Vice President Chen visits Taiwan’s diplomatic allies

Vice President Chen Chien-jen visited Taiwan’s diplomatic ally, the Dominican Republic, from August 14 to 17 to attend the inauguration of President Danilo Medina and hold meetings with Medina to exchange views on future bilateral cooperation. Chen also met with Taiwanese business owners in the country. Shortly after returning from this trip, Chen departed for the Vatican on the evening of September 2 to serve as Taiwan’s representative at ceremonies marking the canonization of Mother Theresa. Chen, a devout Catholic, met with Pope Francis. He also presented a US$112,000 donation from the Taiwan government to help the victims of an earthquake that hit central Italy last month

Possible SID Shutdown in 2017

The Special Investigations Division of the police might be disbanded as of January 1 next year, according to media reports. The Legislative Yuan on September 21 passed the first review of a bill that would scrap articles of the Organic Act of Courts that form the legal basis for the SID. The bill will now be offered for cross-party negotiations before being submitted for final legislative approval. The move is supported by the Ministry of Justice, as it would improve the capabilities of district prosecutors to handle major corruption scandals, according to an MOJ press statement. DPP lawmakers said the SID had long drawn condemnation for engaging in politically motivated investigations and had created distrust in Taiwan’s prosecutorial system. The SID was established by Chen Shui-bian in 2007 to investigate corruption cases involving government officials, but critics say it became a tool for politicians pursuing their own agendas.

New Judicial Yuan nominees named

After her first choices for Judicial Yuan (JY) president and vice president withdrew their names, President Tsai has selected a new set of nominees: former Grand Justice Hsu Tzong-li for JY president and Supreme Court Justice Tsai Chiung-tun for vice-president. The administration said the two were chosen because of their “academic prowess and professional experience,” as well as the expectation that they will push for popularly supported judicial reforms.
The previous two nominees, Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission Chief Hsieh Wen-ting and Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lin Chin-fang, withdrew their nominations amid accusations that Hsieh was tied to human rights violations during the Martial Law era and that Lin had committed plagiarism. The nominations must be approved by the Legislative Yuan.

MOFA considers closing four overseas offices

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is reportedly considering closing at least four overseas offices – in Guam, Germany, Norway, and Saudi Arabia – to cut costs and avoid redundancy. According to news accounts, some ministry officials believe the functions of the operations in Hamburg, Germany and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia could be better handled by MOFA’s offices in those nations’ respective capitals of Berlin and Riyadh. The office in Guam may no longer be regarded as necessary, since dedicated MOFA offices have been set up in all of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the South Pacific. The Oslo office apparently is on the chopping block because Norway has not reciprocated with an office in Taiwan.