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Ruling means Wang can keep party membership rights for now

2013/09/13 18:55:07

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng greets reporters Friday as he arrives in Legislative Yuan for a meeting with caucus leaders.

Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng won a reprieve Friday when a Taipei court granted his request for an injunction, allowing him to retain his membership rights in the ruling party for the time being -- and presumably his job as the president of the Legislative Yuan (LY).

Wang filed the request Wednesday, shortly after the Kuomintang (KMT) revoked his membership for his role in pressuring a prosecutor to drop an appeal against another lawmaker.

In granting his request with a bond of NT$9.38 million (US$316,000), the court has allowed Wang to continue to exercise his rights as a KMT member while he pursues legal action to seek reinstatement in the party.

Along with the injunction request, Wang filed a civil lawsuit asking the court to confirm the validity of his party membership on the grounds of unfair treatment by the KMT. It could take months for the case to run its course.

Chen Ming, the lawyer representing the KMT, said he was disappointed at the court's ruling and indicated an intention to appeal as soon as possible.

The panel of three judges granted Wang's request on the basis of avoiding "irreparable damages" that the plaintiff would suffer due to a loss of eligibility to serve in the Legislature while waiting for a court to rule on his other lawsuit.

The question of whether Wang remains a lawmaker and president of the LY, however, does not fall within the boundary of the injunction request, the judges said.

Wang, 72, has been a legislator-at-large appointed by the KMT and a revocation of party membership would remove him from seat. A 38-year veteran of the LY, he has served as its president since 1999.

The Taipei District Court's decision came on the same day that Wang presided over a meeting of party caucus leaders at the Legislature, despite a Thursday request from the Central Election Commission (CEC) to remove his name from the list of LY members.

Liu Yi-chou, deputy chief of the CEC, would not comment on the court's decision, saying only that pending a formal response from the LY, the commission would not be able to announce a replacement for Wang as a KMT-appointed legislator.

"I will perform my duties for as long as I'm on the job," Wang told reporters.

The unprecedented case of a legislative speaker effectively being forced out of his post by his own party has been criticized as a "constitutional crisis" by opposition parties. President Ma Ying-jeou, who also chairs the KMT, has been portrayed as locked in a political struggle against Wang, as the two have kept a courteous but never cozy relationship.

The Presidential Office has maintained that the evidence clearly indicates Wang crossed a red line by interfering in the judiciary. He successfully pressured a prosecutor to drop an appeal against a verdict that benefited Ker Chien-ming, a leader of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party's legislative caucus, the office said.

Wang called Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu and a senior prosecutor in late June, allegedly to seek help on Ker's behalf. While he did not deny the calls, Wang claimed that he only discussed prosecutorial appeals in general and did not touch on any specific cases.

(By Jay Chen)
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