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October, 25, 2016

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Hsu Chih-hsiung faces questioning

Lawmakers peppered grand justice nominee Hsu Chih-hsiung with questions about his personal political views on Monday, with many saying they did not believe he could render fair decisions should he be appointed.

Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers Lin Te-fu and Chang Li-shan, who have openly opposed Hsu's nomination, questioned the nominee's political neutrality, citing his participation in the pan-green-leaning Ketagalan Academy and asking whether he recognized the R.O.C. and its Constitution.

Hsu replied that he acknowledged the R.O.C. in its current form on Taiwan.

Asked to describe relations between Taiwan and China, Hsu replied: "Taiwan is an independent, sovereign nation. And of course, so is mainland China."

He later defined "Republic of China" as Taiwan's official name.

When asked whether he would be willing to sing the country's national anthem, Hsu replied that "he could not go against his conscience" and that he found problems with the anthem's first stanza relating to the "Three Principles of the People," once a core ideology of the KMT government.

KMT lawmaker Apollo Chen asked Hsu to explain his position on the role of law enforcement in divisive high-profile demonstrations such as that by former Formosa Plastics Group workers, and asked how Hsu viewed Premier Lin Chuan's decision to drop charges against Sunflower Movement activists who broke into the Executive Yuan.

Chen also asked whether civil servants would have the legal right to strike if they disagreed with government plans to reform the public sector pension system.

Hsu repeatedly declined to present his viewpoints on individual cases on the grounds of neutrality, but he promised to uphold judicial neutrality should he be confirmed.

He was less reticent when Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu brought up the government's move to renationalize "ill-gotten" KMT assets. Hsu said the efforts were part of the goal of transitional justice and were constitutional.

He also stated that he found no separation of powers qualms with regard to the president's recent policy coordination meetings, which includes officials from the Cabinet, the Legislature, local government heads and the DPP.

This assertion came in contrast to remarks last week made by Judicial Yuan president nominee Hsu Tzong-li, who said that the issue "required consideration." During questioning by lawmakers on his nomination, Hsu stated that cross-strait relations were "special state-to-state" relationships, a stance that the Mainland Affairs Council later indicated constituted his own personal views and not those of the government.

Hsu Chih-hsiung is a law professor at National Taiwan University, once served as a grand justice and specializes in constitutional law.

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Grand justice nominee Hsu Chih-hsiung, left, answers a question from Legislator Lin Te-fu during confirmation hearings at the Legislative Yun on Monday, Oct. 17. (Screen grab captured from the Legislative Yuan website)

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