Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-09-26 05:47 PM
On September 13, the Taipei District Court granted Wang an injunction against a KMT decision to revoke his membership based on allegations of influence peddling. The loss of his KMT membership was also likely to result in his complete removal from the Legislative Yuan.
Last week, the KMT filed an appeal against the injunction. Thursday’s High Court session formed a public discussion between attorneys of both camps about the appeal, but a verdict was not expected until Friday at the earliest.
Presiding judge Wei Li-chuan told both sides to each take a step back and put aside their dispute. “Taking a step back means advancing,” she was quoted as saying by the media, who were allowed to attend the discussions.
At the end of three hours of debate during the afternoon, Wei said political problems should be solved the political way. There was only one country, she said, adding that she believed both sides had the public and the national interest foremost in mind.
Wang’s attorneys told reporters they would pass the judge’s remarks on to their client, while KMT attorney Chen Ming said the legislative speaker should consider a public apology because it was his behavior which was at the root of the case.
The session ended with the judges asking the KMT to provide more documents before a verdict could be reached. Media reports speculated this request could postpone the verdict until next week.
The Supreme Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Division (SID)’s September 6 news conference alleging that Wang had phoned the Ministry of Justice to persuade prosecutors not to appeal against a not-guilty verdict for top opposition lawmaker Ker Chien-ming touched off a major power struggle between President Ma Ying-jeou, who chairs the KMT, and Wang, an old rival.
The eight attorneys for Wang present at Thursday’s High Court session defended the speaker’s right to take an intra-party dispute to the courts because the same had happened with previous cases when KMT members felt they had been improperly treated by the party.
They also questioned the legality of the wiretapping on Wang’s phones by the SID. Prosecutors said they had learned of Wang’s alleged influence peddling because they had tapped his phones and overheard his conversations with Ker and with Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu, who resigned the day the allegations became public.
The basic argument of the KMT’s three attorneys was that the courts should not become involved in the internal affairs of political parties. If Wang’s membership had been revoked by the party, that could not be undone by a court, the attorneys argued, adding that his staying on as legislative speaker meant that lawmakers could be elected but could not be deposed.
Wang was elected on an at-large list with the candidates and their ranking chosen by the party. If a member was expelled, he would have to be replaced by the next candidate on the list. The Taipei District Court injunction meant that the party would lose its control over the lawmakers elected from the list, the KMT lawyers said.
The attorneys also reasoned that the affair was not part of a power struggle but was purely a case of internal party discipline. They mentioned a similar example from Japan to underline their case.
The speaker himself was not present in court but continued to work at the Legislative Yuan. After the power struggle in the KMT erupted, the opposition refused to let Premier Jiang Yi-huah deliver his administrative report as a protest against comments he made criticizing Wang.
A second attempt last Tuesday also failed as opposition lawmakers kept up their occupation of the podium.
The latest formula to solve the stalemate could be to allow Jiang to file his written report with the Legislature, which he has already done, without the need for a public speech. Wang emphasized Thursday that it could be a solution, but only if all parties agreed.