President plays down ‘political struggle’

By Adam Tyrsett Kuo ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday rejected claims that his reactions to Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) involvement in the recent influence-peddling case were politically motivated. When asked about the possibility of reconciliation between him and Wang, Ma said, “Neither of us are men without prudence, but we need to distinguish between right and wrong.” Ma has come under fire from members of both the ruling and opposition parties over the lawsuit against Wang. Many have accused the president of ignoring due process in his handling of the case, pointing toward the revocation of Wang’s Kuomintang (KMT) membership. With the conclusion of a probe by the Special Investigation Division (SID), the KMT disciplinary committee, which is separate from the state’s judicial institutions, assumes responsibility for maintaining party discipline, Ma said, adding that the committee is not obliged to wait for a court conviction to reprimand its members. Ma cited ex-Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih (林益世) among others as examples in explaining that the committee has the right to take action, in accordance with party regulations, if party members have tarnished the party’s reputation. The judicial institutions couldn’t have acted against the speaker because the case in which Wang was involved falls under the Legislature’s jurisdiction, Ma explained. Influence peddling is against the Legislature’s regulations, but there are no punitive provisions in place, the president added. Ma said that he held a press conference on Sept. 11 before the KMT disciplinary committee convened, in order to underline the fact that the responsibility of reprimanding Wang had fallen upon the party. Ma declined to comment on whether he had anticipated the outcome of events, but stressed that there needs to be a standard by which right and wrong can be differentiated. The president stressed that there isn’t any bad blood between him and Wang, and that the KMT had specifically revised its legislator-at-large nomination regulations for Wang, which proves the degree of respect that the speaker was afforded. In response to claims that he is trying to get rid of the speaker due to personal reasons, Ma said that he would have reacted in the same manner regardless of the person involved. “The sort of hatred described (by the press) between Wang and me has simply never existed, as if I was waiting for an opportunity to take him down. This is completely untrue,” Ma said.

Political Shrewdness Political commentators have pointed out that if Ma had not made the incident public, he might have been able to hang it over Wang’s head to ensure a Legislature obedient to the head of state. In response, the president said, “I am not that shrewd.” Ma added that the appropriate way to deal with the matter was to let the public know about it; otherwise, he would have failed the nation as president.