Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-09-12 05:42 PM
The ruling party’s Evaluation and Disciplinary Committee decided Wednesday to revoke Wang’s membership, a move which would lead to the loss of his seat as a lawmaker and to his removal from the position of speaker he has been holding for 14 years.
An attorney for Wang filed a motion with the court against the KMT decision Wednesday afternoon and moved to have it treated as an urgent matter later in the day.
The KMT also showed haste by sending its revocation to the Central Election Commission, which immediately passed it on to the Legislative Yuan. The Legislature now has to send its eventual approval back to the CEC before a decision can be reached to strip Wang of his seat.
The speaker was not present at the court hearing which began at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, but his attorney filed requests to block the KMT from passing on its decision, to ban the Legislative Yuan from stripping Wang of his seat, and to allow him to remain a full KMT member as long as the case had not reached a conclusion.
The speaker’s attorney rejected the party leadership’s claim that his membership damaged its image. According to a poll published by the Chinese-language Apple Daily Thursday, Wang’s popularity stood at 65 percent while Ma only had 21 percent support, showing that the speaker’s expulsion was the issue damaging the party’s reputation, his attorney argued.
KMT attorney Chen Ming asked the court to reject all of Wang’s demands.
The session ended shortly before 6 p.m. with the court reportedly saying it would reach a decision at a later yet-to-be-determined date, possibly after hearing more from the attorneys, reports said.
Separately, CEC Vice Chairman Liu Yi-chou said that Wang had already officially lost his seat beginning Wednesday, as soon as the CEC had received the notification from the KMT. Wang’s membership was an internal party matter and did not have to be solved by a government body, Liu said.
The power struggle between Wang and President Ma Ying-jeou comes as the Legislative Yuan is still officially in summer recess until next week. If Wang is unable to take up his seat, a new speaker will have to be elected. His deputy, Hung Hsiu-chu, could be the most likely choice for the KMT but the opposition was likely to put up a strong fight, reports said.
The confrontation between Ma and Wang began last week, when prosecutors accused the speaker of having phoned Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu about a breach of trust case involving top opposition lawmaker Ker Chien-ming.
Ker had been found not guilty of embezzlement, but according to prosecutors, he phoned Wang to ask him to help out and avoid an appeal against the sentence by prosecutors.
Tseng resigned over the allegations, even though he denied having ordered prosecutors to drop the case against Ker.
The allegations then turned against Wang, who was attending his daughter’s wedding in Malaysia. Ma held news conferences condemning the speaker’s behavior as incompatible with the rule of law.
Wang returned to Taiwan on Tuesday evening amid enthusiastic support from several lawmakers and residents of his home region of Kaohsiung. He also received vocal support and sympathy from several top politicians, including Honorary Chairman Lien Chan, his son Sean Lien and People First Party Chairman James Soong.
Chinese-language newsweekly The Journalist published a theory Wednesday that four top KMT members were planning to put forward a motion at the September 29 KMT Congress putting the full responsibility for the December 2014 local election results on the party chairman, President Ma. The “four families” within the KMT were planning to propose Wang as the new party leader, according to The Journalist.
Since Ma is doing extremely poorly in opinion surveys, with approval ratings below 20 percent, observers expect the election will be difficult for the KMT to win.
The Journalist identified the KMT’s “four families” preparing to upset Ma as Lien Chan, the party’s other honorary chairman, Wu Po-hsiung, and two men often named as hopefuls for the 2016 presidential election, Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu.
Most of the politicians named by the magazine denied its theories.