Ma responds to illegal wiretapping accusations

By Adam Tyrsett Kuo, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that judicial interference and illegal wiretapping are both illegal and should be dealt with according to the law, urging the public not to make a mistake about that. The recent political crisis between Ma and Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) has taken a turn for the worse, while the Justice Ministry has begun investigating Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) over allegations of illegal wiretapping. The Taipei District Prosecutors Office is also poised to question the president over the claims. The crisis originated as a case in which the head of the Legislature attempted to influence the course of an isolated lawsuit, leading to serious implications for the nation’s future in terms of judicial independence, especially toward minority groups and those without political clout, the president said. Wiretapping is common practice in criminal investigations, but because it infringes upon people’s privacy, there has to be strict limitations, the president explained. In response to allegations of illegal wiretapping, Ma said that Huang is currently being investigated by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office, the Control Yuan, the Justice Ministry and the Prosecutor Evaluation Committee, and that the public should wait for the results to make an objective judgment. Ma stressed that he didn’t instruct the prosecutor-general not to question Wang, Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) or former Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) during the Special Investigation Division’s (SID) probe. When asked if the SID had made a mistake by not questioning the people involved, the president said that the SID probably made its decision on the basis that there were no criminal violations, and that given the circumstances, the prosecutor-general did not have the authority to summon the speaker for questioning. No Doubt over Influence Peddling: Ma

When asked why he didn’t accept the speaker’s explanation of the events, the president said that he had read the transcript of the conversation between Wang and Ker, and that there was no doubt about the speaker’s involvement in influence peddling, especially given that a single prosecutor was named, indicating that the speaker had attempted to influence an isolated case, as opposed to reminding the Justice Ministry to follow through on a legislative resolution as claimed. When asked if it was unkind of him to publicly denounce the speaker while the speaker was abroad for his daughter’s wedding, Ma said that the gravity of the incident prevented him from being sympathetic with the speaker’s circumstances.