"Taiwan's justice minister resigns over 'no execution' vow - Fri, Mar 12, 2010 AFP
TAIPEI - Taiwan's justice minister has resigned after she attracted a storm of criticism over a vow not to order any executions during her term, an official said Friday.
'Minister Wang Ching-feng tendered her resignation late Thursday night, and the premier approved it,' an official from the Government Information Office said.
Wang said Wednesday she would rather quit than order the execution of any of the 44 convicts currently on death row, adding she was willing to die in their place or 'descend to hell' for them.
Her supervisor, the Premier, and her colleagues in Cabinet issued a statement that said: "Taiwan is a place governed by the rule of law. There is no law that could suspend any executions of convicts already on the death row."
An interesting story. The Justice Minister is right to resign and the Premier is right to accept the resignation while the cabinet's statement is the fact of life!
Lessons for me are:
1. it is rare to have someone in authority to resign over some principles she held dear. Nowsaday a lot of people in power simply just play along as long as they can hang on to power. So, in this sense, I salute the Justice Minister for her action;
2. when you are a leader, if you want to change an entrenched way of doing things or a set of long held values, it can be done. Through influencing others slowly but steadily over time, you may be able to change the law eventually. Unless the rule of law is so inequitable, unreasonable, and devoid of any decency and/or logic, the leader can act decisively to change it through aggressive campaigning to get the law re-written. This is where visionary leader can break new ground;
3. at the same time, before the law is properly amended, it must be respected and upheld. Punishment meted out must be carry out so that there is one consistent understanding that convicts who committed crimes that the court found as guilty as charged, the consequences will be felt by the convicted criminals. There is no doubt what will happen to them!
On a different front, whether death sentence is a savage and barbaric punishment or not, is subject to each person's interpretation. The question we are facing now in this situation is not this issue.
It is about carrying out sentences that were passed down after due process of the law, that the convicts were given a chance to defend their actions beyond any reasonable doubt!
They failed. Hence, they must face the consequences of their illegal actions. Orders must be restored! It is not able being soft and lovey freely.