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Wang's KMT membership revocation result of consensus: official

2013/09/11 20:33:59

Huang Chao-yuan, head of the Kuomintang's Evaluation and Discipline Committee.

Taipei, Sept. 11 (CNA) The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) has revoked Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's party membership based on a consensus of members of the party's Evaluation and Discipline Committee, a senior KMT official said Wednesday.

"Wang was stripped of his party membership because his involvement in an influence peddling case has tarnished the party's image and reputation," said Hung Chao-yuan, head of the committee.

The punitive decision was reached after more than two hours of discussion among all the committee members, Huang said at a news conference.

Wang is accused of using his influence to urge the prosecutor in a breach of trust case not to appeal a High Court ruling in favor of the chief legislative whip of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, Ker Chien-ming.

Ker was found not guilty by the High Court after two previous guilty rulings.

The revocation of his KMT membership could render Wang ineligible to hold the top legislative post that he has held for 14 years.

After losing his KMT membership, Wang could be disqualified as a KMT legislator-at-large, which will mandate his departure from the Legislature.

"While some committee members spoke out in support of Wang, most others called for an impartial ruling to defend the party's core values and reputation," Huang said.

"The committee finally reached its `revocation' conclusion after extensive discussion," Huang said.

According to the KMT regulations, Wang can appeal against the revocation within 20 days of receiving official notice from the party.

The party has to decide within 30 days to either uphold or change its decision.

Meanwhile, the Central Election Commission said it would ask the Legislature to invalidate Wang's status as a lawmaker after receiving notification from the KMT verifying Wang's loss of party membership.

Wang appeared at the KMT headquarters that same day to deliver a written statement to the discipline committee in which he reiterated that he had done nothing wrong to mar the party's image or reputation.

He argued that he did not interfere with any specific legal case and only recommended that senior judicial officials should help curb abuse of power by prosecutors.

Wang, 72, has 38 years of service in the Legislature and has been at the helm of the body for 14 years.

During his short visit to KMT headquarters, Wang also told the disciplinary committee verbally that the influence peddling accusations leveled at him by the Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office are totally groundless.

Describing himself as "a permanent KMT member," Wang said he felt deep regret over what he said was the SID's breach of the law in wiretapping and making false accusations against him.

Later in the day, at the KMT's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, President Ma Ying-jeou said that the decision to strip Wang of his party membership was painful.

"But it was the right decision, and one that the party had to make," Ma said in his capacity as KMT chairman.

He urged all party members to stand united to defend the party's reputation and work together to maintain domestic political stability.

An hour before the KMT disciplinary committee began to deliberate the high-profile controversy, Ma told an early morning news conference that Wang is no longer suitable for his post as he had "crossed the red line" by intervening in a legal case.

"I am deeply disappointed and I regret that Wang failed to apologize for his involvement in the influence peddling case after his return from an overseas trip last night," Ma said at the news conference, speaking in his capacity as KMT chairman.

"If our party fails to give Wang a punishment that results in his disqualification as a KMT legislator-at-large and thus mandate his departure from the Legislature, it would be tantamount to tacit permission for continued trampling on the dignity of our justice system," Ma said.

Since the influence peddling matter came to light last week, Ma said, he has issued strongly worded statements to express his firm stance against such actions, but has stopped short of asking Wang to step down.

"That was because I hoped he would offer to resign to preserve the dignity of our Legislature and the KMT," Ma said.

He said the statement Wang made Tuesday at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was "extremely disappointing and completely unacceptable."

Wang focused on accusing the Special Investigation Division of violating regulations and he avoided the issue of his implication in influence peddling, Ma noted.

"Since Wang has decided not to step down voluntarily, the responsibility falls on the KMT. As the party's leader, I am obliged to express my position clearly," Ma said.

Stressing that the development of Taiwan's democracy and rule of law is at a critical juncture, Ma said that all party members should adopt a united stance on the Wang issue.

"This is a moment of truth. I believe all party members will choose to stand on the right side of history and work together to defend our judicial integrity and the party's reputation," Ma added.

(By Lee Shu-hua and Sofia Wu)
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