Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-10-05 03:04 PM
The move was widely interpreted as a first gesture of goodwill which could start to mend the seriously damaged relationship between President Ma Ying-jeou and the influential head of the Legislature.
The KMT’s Evaluation and Discipline Committee revoked Wang’s membership on September 11 after prosecutors and President Ma Ying-jeou accused him of having tried to influence a court case against a top opposition lawmaker. The move would have also stripped Wang of his functions as speaker and lawmaker, but he filed a request for an injunction which was approved by the Taipei District Court. The Taiwan High Court rejected an appeal by the KMT.
After consultation with representatives from various quarters, Ma, who also chairs the KMT, had decided not to file a new appeal out of consideration for political stability, party official Yin Wei said. The KMT had until October 11 to request the appeal at the Supreme Court.
Ma still hoped the truth about the case would soon come out and his decision against an appeal would not go against fairness and justice, Yin said.
The president knew that many KMT Central Standing Committee members, lawmakers and senior members supported him in his condemnation of influence peddling and of interference with the judicial process, but were also concerned about recent political developments, Yin said.
There was no need to continue with fighting the injunction, as Wang had also filed a civil case in the courts against his removal from the KMT, Ma reportedly said. According to legal experts, it might take two years before a final verdict is reached by the courts.
There was speculation that the president’s new conciliatory tone was the result of an impromptu visit by Premier Jiang Yi-huah to the legislative speaker Friday afternoon.
Jiang spent most of the day at the Legislative Yuan unable to present his administrative report because of a boycott by the opposition. Before leaving the building, he asked for a meeting with Wang, their first face-to-face encounter since the affair broke out a month ago.
Earlier in the week, Wang announced that he would not lodge an appeal within the KMT against its Evaluation and Discipline Committee September 11 decision in the interests of party harmony.
In a statement Saturday, the legislative speaker described the 20-minute meeting with Jiang as “a good start.” However, he also lashed out at the Supreme Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Division (SID) for eavesdropping on the Legislature. Such a practice was unheard of in democratic countries and could not be allowed to happen even for one second, his statement said.
When the SID announced the allegations against Wang on September 6, it said the information had been gained by listening in on private phone conversations. Evidence appeared later that the SID had placed wiretaps on the central exchange of a Legislative Yuan building which houses the offices of more than 80 lawmakers.
Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming has been listed as a defendant for leaking the information about the alleged influence-peddling case to Ma in meetings on August 31 and September 1. After his first meeting with Huang, the president called in Premier Jiang and then-presidential vice secretary-general Lo Chih-chiang to discuss the case with them.
The Taipei Prosecutors Office questioned Ma, Jiang, Lo and Huang separately in an unprecedented move last Thursday evening. Critics have demanded Huang’s immediate resignation.
Because small discrepancies had been found between the statements of the president and the top prosecutor, investigators did not rule out more questioning of Huang or even a confrontation between Ma and Huang, reports said.
The top prosecutor reportedly defended his actions by arguing he had not violated any laws regarding the leaking of data from investigations because the matter was linked to the national interest and because he had not revealed any details about unrelated matters. Huang also reportedly argued that since the investigation had already concluded that no crime had been committed, his discussions with the president did not amount to the leaking of investigation data.
Huang was being interviewed by a special Ministry of Justice taskforce Saturday evening, cable stations reported. The 11-member group’s final report was expected shortly after the weekend, according to local media.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers described Ma’s decision not to file an appeal against Wang’s injunction as a mere legal strategy. He should admit his mistakes and apologize, while Jiang should also apologize before the boycott of his administrative report could stop, the legislators said.
Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin welcomed the rapprochement because it corresponded to the public’s wishes. He denied reports he wanted to distance himself from Ma now that the recent political struggle with Wang had pushed the president’s approval ratings into single figures. All KMT members hoped the party’s leaders could work together and focus on improving the economy, Hau told reporters.
KMT lawmaker Huang Chao-shun also welcomed the party’s decision, describing it as “the best National Day present President Ma could give to the people.” Thursday October 10 is Taiwan’s National Day, with Ma and Wang expected to appear together for the first time since the conflict started.