Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-09-17 02:58 PM
Opposition legislators, wearing black in a sign of protest, blocked the podium while holding up banners accusing President Ma Ying-jeou and Jiang from interfering with the Constitution and calling for the premier’s apology and resignation.
Despite mediation by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng during most of the day, ruling camp and opposition failed to reach an agreement. Wang announced the closure of the day’s meeting, meaning Jiang would have to try again next Tuesday.
Democratic Progressive Party caucus chief whip Ker Chien-ming said his party would allow the premier to go ahead with his speech only if he first apologized for interfering with the Legislature’s jurisdiction. The DPP also demanded the abolition of the Supreme Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Division and special reports about the issues of illegal phone-tapping, electricity price hikes and the nuclear referendum. KMT caucus leaders described the demands as unacceptable.
During the afternoon, reports said the DPP would block legislative proceedings each Tuesday and Friday to prevent Jiang from reading his report.
The dispute about Wang emerged when prosecutors accused him of having illegally lobbied with the Ministry of Justice on behalf of Ker in a breach-of-trust case. As a result, Ma said he was unfit to serve as legislative speaker, leading to a decision by a ruling Kuomintang committee to revoke his party membership, which could lead to the loss of his functions as lawmaker and speaker as well. Last week, Wang won the first round in a legal battle with the KMT to hold on to his party membership, but the ruling camp lodged an appeal on Monday. The Taipei District Court would hand over the appeal to the Taiwan High Court on Wednesday, reports said.
The High Court could reject the appeal, which would allow the KMT to lodge a new appeal with the Supreme Court, or throw the case back to the Taipei District Court for a new review. In this event, the question would be whether the same three judges who considered Wang’s case the first time around and granted him an injunction would still deal with the second review. The High Court could also decide to handle the KMT appeal itself, reports said.
Local media noted that Wang and Jiang did not interact at the Legislative Yuan Tuesday even though the speaker was presiding over the session and the premier was present with almost his entire Cabinet. The text of Jiang’s report still started with the opening address “Speaker Wang,” reports said.
Before the opposition protest started, DPP lawmaker Chiu Yi-ying said she and her colleagues were wearing black to protest the fact that respect for the Legislative Yuan had been trampled upon and to mark the death of constitutional politics.
Opposition legislators attacked Ma and Jiang for their attempt at replacing Wang by using KMT rules, while some also projected footage of Ma demanding then-President Chen Shui-bian’s recall in 2006 because he had less than 18 percent support in opinion polls. Since the dispute with Wang, Ma’s ratings have plunged from 13 percent to below 10 percent in at least one survey.
Jiang spent most of the morning reading documents while seeming to pay little attention to the speeches and protests surrounding him, reports said.
Wang acknowledged that concern over the situation at the Legislative Yuan had led to a message from the authorities in China, even though he denied having been phoned directly from Beijing. One of the top issues during the new legislative session is the clause-by-clause review and vote of the Taiwan-China service trade pact signed last June. The instability surrounding Wang’s future might harm the passage of the accord.
The speaker told reporters that high government circles in Beijing had expressed views about the future of the pact, but that they had not directly called him. Instead, someone else had passed on their opinions to him, Wang said, without providing further details. He denied the concern in Beijing would affect the review of the pact.
The legislative speaker also still faced uncertainty about whether he would be persona non grata at the KMT Congress scheduled for September 29. The party leadership reportedly canceled an invitation for him to attend, but had not sent the cancelation yet, reports said Tuesday. There were different opinions within the KMT as to whether Wang should appear at the event, reports said.
Online groups said they would mark September 29 with protests outside the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei where the KMT Congress will take place. The groups called on participants to wear black shirts, as the DPP lawmakers did Tuesday.
In an interview with CTiTV Tuesday, Ma denied allegations that he had masterminded a plan to destroy Wang. He reaffirmed his view that he was acting to protect the independence of the judiciary from attempts by lawmakers at influence-peddling.
Ma dismissed suggestions that Wang could bolt the party and take a dozen KMT lawmakers with him to form a majority alliance with the opposition. The president, who also chairs the KMT, said lawmakers understood that if the party could rule, it was because of its election victories and its majority at the Legislative Yuan.