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Wang Ching-feng quits

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In the face of public protest and urgings for her to step down, Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng officially resigned from her post late last night.

Wang's resignation has been approved by President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Wu Den-yih.

Wang has been embroiled in criticism since Wednesday, when she reiterated her anti-capital punishment stance by saying she would rather “go to hell” and “resign” than execute death sentences during her tenure as justice minister.

Earlier yesterday, Wang maintained that she would not be stepping down. The Grand Justice Council was set to provide an interpretation of whether Wang's behavior violates Taiwan constitution, which permits capital punishment.

Taiwan's last execution was in 2005. Currently, 44 convicts sit on death row in Taiwan. Another 77 are appealing against their death penalties.

As all executions must be ordered by the justice minister, Wang's declaration on Wednesday induced immediate outrage from the public and legislators alike. According to a survey conducted by United Daily News, 42 percent of the respondents believe that Wang should resign.

Public figures critical of Wang's actions include Kuomintang Legislator Wu Yu-sheng and Control Yuan member Chao Chang-ping. Chao even stated that he would investigate the case with another member of the Control Yuan.

In an earlier response, Wang said that if she was indeed forced to resign over her refusal to authorize executions, the Taiwan government would surely become an international laughingstock.

The justice minister's argument is indirectly supported by the 70 percent of nations in the world in compliance with a non-binding United Nation resolution, which calls for “a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.”

The Case for Abolishing Executions

Wang is not without her supporters. From Hollywood movies such as “Dead Man Walking” — which stars Susan Sarandon as a nun consoling death-row inmates — to local associations like the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, there has always been a fair share of capital punishment opponents. Even Political Deputy Minister of Justice Huang Shih-ming, the nation's new top prosecutor, said on Monday that he personally agrees with abolishing capital punishment.

However, Wang's stance is in direct opposition with the majority of the nation's people; According to the same United Daily News survey, 74 percent of respondents are opposed to the abolishment of capital punishment.

March 12, 2010    tsu4ever@
VIVA, BAI BING-BING!!! Time to ANNIHILATE all those MADA_KERS once and for all.
March 12, 2010    yenray@
I used to be a firm believer of the death penalty. However, that resolve has been softened slowly during the past few years, probably because I’ve been showered by the human rights crowd with messages of wrongful executions, the high cost of the death penalty, and the need for compassion, etc, etc….. These messages are having a significant effect on how I feel towards the current process for capital punishment, not so much on whether we should abolish it or not but more on how to eliminate wrongful convictions. On the other hand, if the family of a capital crime victim is fine with keeping a particular criminal alive instead of putting a bullet through his head (the method of execution in Taiwan), the law should respect that. The victim’s love ones should be the only source of “pardon”, not some Minister of Justice who has decided that her personal believe is above the law.
Minister Wang has decided to step down, I’m sure not willingly, but I feel there is a bigger problem that has arise from this event: the arrogance of some government officials. These scholar types are so fascinated with themselves that they look down upon anyone who fails to share with their opinions, and in this case, even the law of the land is snared at. Minister of Justice is a law enforcement post, not a legislative post. If law enforcers are selective in the laws that they enforce, then I can foresee a chaotic society where we might have to bring back public execution just to get people to respect the law again.
March 12, 2010    quelenglish@
Execution of those who committed capital punishments. I respect life. Those who committed such crimes, I want them to suffer and feel the pain of the family's victims. It is hard and it is tough. But a quick execution won't solve anything but the death of the criminal. Criminals do have a choice and they do have a right too (though limited). They do have a choice whether they want to continue their quality of life or do the worse and be a menace or endangered to the society. People commits mistake and people do change. Should we give them a chance? That is why we have laws to abide. We have enforcer to follow. We have judges, juries, courts, governments etc. It is such a sad day, Justice Minister Wang has to resign. She is an advocate of justice and must continue to fight for what she believes in. She believes in the law and she is doing the very best she can for her country and for the people.
March 12, 2010    mtsai16@
Families who have suffered great pains resulting from murders have our empathy. Thus, it is not difficult to understand why many Taiwanese believe strongly in the justice of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" and argue that a life forcefully taken away deserves an equal sacrifice by the murderer(s).

It goes without saying that life is precious, and every killing (even an official execution) deserves society's condemnation. In light of this, I have two questions for the Taiwanese society: Will taking away another life truly heal wounds? More importantly, will taking away another life bring back the deceased?

I detect two blind spots in the argument that executions serve as a deterrent to future crimes.
First, after a criminal has been put to sleep, what are his chances of being deterred?! On the other hand, if he were kept in solitary confinement for life, he would not be able harm society anymore.
Second, to suggest that executions will prevent others from committing future murders is naive and misleading. Laws familiar to us all simply remind us of the price we must pay for our crimes. No laws or official actions can eliminate crimes forever because these social misbehaviors find their origin in our genes.

Life imprisonment, in essence, allows criminals to spend the rest of their lives in solitude ruminating on their actions. Life imprisonment is a humane approach to serving justice without shortening another human life; it is an alternative to capital punishment.
March 12, 2010    robert_chen2@
yenray@ wrote:
I used to be a firm believer of the death penalty. However, that resolve has been softened slowly during the past few years, probably because I’ve been showered by the human rights crowd with messages of wrongful executions, the high cost of the death penalty, and the need for compassion, etc, etc….. These messages are having a significant effect on how I feel towards the current process for capital punishment, not so much on whether we should abolish it or not but more on how to eliminate wrongful convictions. On the other hand, if the family of a capital crime victim is fine with keeping a particular criminal alive instead of putting a bullet through his head (the method of execution in Taiwan), the law should respect that. The victim’s love ones should be the only source of “pardon”, not some Minister of Justice who has decided that her personal believe is above the law.
Minister Wang has decided to step down, I’m sure not willingly, but I feel there is a bigger problem that has arise from this event: the arrogance of some government officials. These scholar types are so fascinated with themselves that they look down upon anyone who fails to share with their opinions, and in this case, even the law of the land is snared at. Minister of Justice is a law enforcement post, not a legislative post. If law enforcers are selective in the laws that they enforce, then I can foresee a chaotic society where we might have to bring back public execution just to get people to respect the law again.
Our society is ruled of law, not ruled by law.
Rule of law and due process are the bedrock upon which all Taiwanese liberty and justice are based.
The rule of law has always been being based on realistic human nature.
If laws are against human nature, then they should not be enforced.
Evil law is illegal.
March 13, 2010    the_alliance47@
"In an earlier response, Wang said that if she was indeed forced to resign over her refusal to authorize executions, the Taiwan government would surely become an international laughingstock."

Unfortunately, there is not much to laugh about today, which is a sad one for human rights. As a fervent supporter of the KMT myself, it is sad to see that the hard work of democratizing Taiwan in the past 25 years has resulted in such a travesty today. As long as the Taiwanese people continue to support this gross violation of human rights, it weakens its case that it is different than the communist regime on the Mainland.
March 13, 2010    elumpen@
Taiwan is already VERY selective in the way the law is enforced. I'm surprised that, generally, people here are quite law-abiding. For a minor example, go and watch a policeman handing out tickets for whatever prescribed infraction he's supposed to be watching for: within half an hour, you'll see at least five potentially lethal traffic violations happen in front of his nose, which won't even register his attention. Because it is largely left to individuals to bring private prosecutions for crimes, and criminals can escape prosecution by "apologizing" to their victims (a process which no doubt involves a midnight visit from a few men with big sticks and fat necks), a career criminal in Taiwan is unlikely to ever get caught or jailed. In other words, the effectiveness of law enforcement is less dependent on the severity of the written law but with the efficiency of enforcement - the likelihood of being caught and punished.
March 13, 2010    hsiehmingyu@
I hope Taiwan will soon abolish the death penalty.
March 13, 2010    wuweide@
//Time to ANNIHILATE all those MADA_KERS once and for all.//

Sums up death penalty advocates really.
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 Wang Ching-feng quits 
From left: Lu Chin-te, actress Bai Bing-bing and He Hai-hsin embrace during a press conference held yesterday. Bai's daughter was kidnapped, raped and murdered in a highly publicized case in 1997. The three parents' children were victims to capital crimes; each voiced their aversion towards Wang's self-administered policy. (CNA)

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