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September 26, 2017

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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.

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