Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-09-07 02:56 PM
Prosecutors said Friday that top opposition lawmaker Ker Chien-ming had phoned Wang to persuade the judiciary not to appeal a not-guilty verdict in a breach of trust case. Wang reportedly phoned Tseng, who talked to the relevant prosecutor leading to her dropping the case. The alleged influence peddling came to light through investigators listening to phone conversations between Ker and Wang.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party supported Ker’s statements that he had never asked for interference in the judiciary, while accusing Ma of waging a power struggle with Wang inside the ruling Kuomintang.
After two rounds of talks with Premier Jiang Yi-huah, Tseng announced his resignation Friday evening but maintained his innocence.
Wang was reportedly attending the wedding of a daughter on a remote island in Malaysia, but Ma told reporters he hoped the senior KMT politician could return to Taiwan early to explain the issue. The speaker’s aides said the wedding took place Sunday noon and transportation from the island was difficult. Wang had reportedly been informed about the latest developments but had not made any comments.
Ma said that if the allegations were true, they would damage public confidence in the judiciary and deliver a serious blow to the image of the KMT.
After discussions with Jiang Friday, the president said he had come to the conclusion that Tseng would be unable to continue carrying out his task as justice minister effectively. Tseng has been temporarily replaced by his deputy, Chen Ming-tang. The scandal started Friday morning with the Supreme Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Bureau announcing it was referring the minister to the Control Yuan, the top government watchdog. No violations of the law had been found because Tseng apparently did not receive any money or other benefits, the SID said.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang expressed concern about internal party bickering affecting the credibility of the judiciary. The president should come out and solve the situation, because those involved were all nominated by him, Su said.
The opposition leader also lashed out at the practice of listening in to conversations by the legislative speaker and lawmakers, saying that in a normal democracy such a case would be a major scandal.
Instead of holding a news conference about the alleged influence peddling, the SID should have continued its investigations to reach a conclusion about there were any grounds for a legal case, Su said.
The DPP chairman condemned the abuse of an investigation to conduct political infighting and expressed his support for Ker, one of his party’s most veteran legislators.
Ker was accused of embezzling money from a company but was found not guilty earlier this year. Prosecutor Lin Hsiu-tao, who was in charge of the case, denied that she was under pressure from Tseng or from Chen Shou-huang, head of the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office, to drop any thoughts of an appeal against the not-guilty verdict.
She said Chen only told her to evaluate the case on its merits. In the end, she decided that there was no evidence which could back up an appeal.
The SID said Friday that Chen should be referred to an administrative review committee because he also acted on Ker’s behalf after being called to do so by Tseng.
The allegations of a power struggle between Ma and Wang came as KMT members were casting ballots for the new members of the party’s most powerful body, the Central Standing Committee, Saturday.