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A case of shaming legislative speaker? Ma's aide says no

2013/09/10 15:27:51

Taipei, Sept. 10 (CNA) A day after President Ma Ying-jeou was accused of shaming Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng in an influence peddling case, a presidential aide said Wednesday that it was Wang who showed no respect to the judicial system.

"The moment Wang used his influence to call (Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker) Ker Chien-ming, (Justice Minister) Tseng Yung-fu and Chen Shou-huang (head of the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office), the justice system was shamed," said Lo Chih-chiang, deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office.

"It is not President Ma who has not shown Wang basic respect. It is Wang himself who has not accorded basic respect to the judicial system," Lo said.

A special prosecutors unit alleged on Sept. 6 that Wang improperly lobbied Tseng and Chen to use their influence in a breach of trust case in which Ker was the defendant.

Ker was found not guilty in a third trial after being found guilty in two previous trials, and Wang allegedly asked Tseng and Chen to urge the prosecutor in charge of the case not to appeal the not-guilty verdict and push for another trial.

The prosecutors unit has not indicted anybody in the case, however, because there was no evidence that money or other rewards changed hands for the lobbying efforts.

The president has come down hard on the incident and the legislative speaker's role in it, to the dismay of former Vice President Lien Chan, now an honorary chairman of Ma's party, the Kuomintang (KMT).

Lien on Tuesday criticized the way Ma has treated Wang and his move to have a KMT disciplinary committee decide Wang's fate on Wednesday.

Ma concurrently serves as the chairman of the KMT.

For the sake of the party's solidarity and the country's stability, Lien did not want the case to rock the nation, according to Lien's spokesman.

Lien believes that allegations of influence peddling should be backed by unequivocal evidence, and that Wang should have the chance to give his side of the story, something he has yet to do because he has been in Malaysia attending his daughter's wedding, the spokesman said.

Lien also feels that Wang, a veteran legislator who has been legislative speaker since 1999, has a certain stature within the party, and "Ma should not use this improper method to shame him," according to Lien's spokesman.

The presidential office did not accept the argument.

"We hope Lien can understand the public's high expectations of the fairness of the justice system and that it not be subject to influence peddling," Lo said.

If a legislative speaker can use his influence to interfere in individual cases and does not have to take responsibility for it, how can the administration team face the country, Lo asked.

Lo also addressed reports that Ma himself was involved in influence peddling in his special allowance case while serving as Taipei mayor. He was indicted in 2007 and was cleared the following year.

The DPP has charged that Tseng Yung-chuan -- currently the KMT's secretary-general -- called then State Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming on Ma's behalf to ask a prosecutor not to appeal a not-guilty verdict after Ma's first trial.

Lo said the reports, which relied on anonymous sources, have not been substantiated by anyone involved and were riddled with mistakes.

Lo said Ma was ruled not guilty in his first, second and third trials, and asked, "How could he possibly lobby prosecutors not to appeal under the circumstances?"

(By Lee Shu-hua and Lilian Wu)