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Key presidential aide resigns amid political turmoil

2013/09/12 20:54:03

Taipei, Sept. 12 (CNA) Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Lo Chih-chiang announced his resignation Thursday, a day after the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) forced Wang Jin-pyng, one of the country's longest-serving legislative speakers, out of the party.

Lo, who on behalf of his office has blasted Wang in recent days for the legislative speaker's meddling in a legal case, said President Ma Ying-jeou finally approved his resignation Wednesday.

"I have offered to resign several times, but President Ma did not agree to my request until last night after I asked him to let me go my own way this time around," Lo said in an interview.

He said the president is expected to find somebody to take over the post within two weeks.

"I'll then depart from public service and will not take up any new posts for the time being," said Lo, who is considered one of Ma's most trusted proteges.

"Let fate take its course," said Lo.

Despite recent media reports indicating he has his eyes set on the mayorship of the northern port city of Keelung during next year's election, Lo ruled out such a possibility.

"I would not run for that post after resigning," he said.

As to whether he is stepping down to assume political responsibility for all the turmoil resulting from Wang's ouster, Lo said that was only one of the factors leading to his decision.

"I have thought about resigning for quite some times. Multiple factors including personal interest, ideals and family, have led to my decision and I cannot attribute my resignation to any single element," he explained.

Lo reiterated his support for Ma's decision to press for Wang's ouster from the KMT as the latter's involvement in influence peddling has damaged the party's image and the country's justice system.

"Political force should never meddle in any judicial cases. This is one of the basic principles of our Constitution and can never be breached," Lo said.

If President Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, shirked his responsibility to punish such an act, public wellbeing could be at stake, he added.

Lo said he was baffled at the harsh criticisms against Ma and the KMT over Wang's ouster and frustrated by the "black, negative tidal waves" that have undermined the administrative team's morale.

"It's time for me to step down from the post as a presidential spokesman, as I know I will be able to freely speak my mind and my views as a private citizen," he wrote in a Facebook post.

The political drama surrounding the ruling party began Sept. 6, when the Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office said it had found that Wang worked with opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Ker Chien-ming and then-Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu to pressure prosecutors not to appeal Ker's acquittal of breach of trust charges.

Tseng resigned later that day though he maintained his innocence, and Wang, who was out of the country at the time, was stripped of his party the day after he returned to Taiwan.

Wang's ouster from the KMT means that he is no longer eligible to maintain his party-appointed lagislator-at-large seat.

Critics of the case have questioned the legality of wiretaps used to collect evidence, which SID prosecutors said were conducted with court permission.

(By Lee Shu-hua and Sofia Wu)
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