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Wang turns down summit with Ma
KMT to hold caucus meeting Friday evening
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-21 04:34 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng turned down an invitation from President Ma Ying-jeou Friday for a summit about the student occupation of the Legislature, giving rise to rumors of a renewed power struggle.

A meeting Ma called with Wang, Premier Jiang Yi-huah and Vice President Wu Den-yih for Friday morning was postponed after the speaker refused to attend. Jiang and Wu were seen arriving at the Presidential Office Building around 11 a.m., when the meeting was supposed to start, reports said.

In a statement explaining his absence from the government summit, Wang called on the president to listen to public opinion. The speaker said that because the Constitution wrote the dispute over the trade pact was an internal matter between the caucuses at the Legislative Yuan, he could not attend the meeting with the president and the other government leaders.

Wang said he received several calls from the Presidential Office but responded with the same rationale each time. He said that in his capacity of legislative speaker, he was using all possible channels to keep communicating and to find a consensus between the caucuses.

In the closing paragraph of his statement, Wang asked President and Kuomintang Chairman Ma to “listen to public opinion and help bring about a consensus between government and opposition for an early resolution to the dispute and the return of order at the Legislative Yuan.”

During the afternoon, KMT legislative caucus chief Lin Hung-chih and his Taiwan Solidarity Union counterpart Lai Chen-chang were seen entering Wang’s official residence, reports said.

Lin told reporters that the speaker had called him Thursday to inquire after the KMT caucus’s views. Those had not changed, the lawmaker said, with the ruling party still assuming the pact had passed the committee stage and was now up to the full Legislature to discuss.

After his talks with the speaker, Lin said the caucus would meet Friday evening but the basic view was that the review of the pact would still take place, though the details of how to proceed would have to be worked out first.

The TSU however stood by its demand that the pact be rejected, thrown back to the Cabinet level and renegotiated with China, a move previously described as unacceptable by government leaders.

Wang concluded that differences were still significant and that it would still take some time before a solution was found.

Lin’s Democratic Progressive Party counterpart, Ker Chien-ming, did not meet with Wang but said that under the present social climate, a consensus would be hard to find within a short period of time even if negotiations were opened.

The DPP stance was clear, Ker said, Ma should first apologize and then send back the trade pact for a complete review by the Legislative Yuan.

Students said the speaker was not the focal point of their protest, and his absence from the summit did not matter as much as the lack of a serious response from the government to their demands. The media should not focus so much on the relationship between Ma and Wang, student leaders said.

The speaker’s refusal to meet the president led to speculation that the move was a consequence of the power struggle which pitted the two politicians against each other last September.

While Wang was attending his daughter’s wedding in a remote part of Malaysia, prosecutors in Taiwan announced he had tried to influence a decision by investigators whether or not to file an appeal against a not-guilty verdict for the opposition’s top lawmaker.

Wang denied all accusations, but on Ma’s insistence, a KMT committee revoked his party membership, which would have also resulted in his expulsion from the Legislative Yuan. He filed an emergency motion with a court, which allowed him to stay on.

The courts rejected KMT appeals against the motion, and on Wednesday, the Taipei District Court handed Wang another victory, confirming he was still a KMT member.

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