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KMT rules out 'political solution' to standoff with speaker

2013/09/27 21:13:05

Taipei, Sept. 27 (CNA) Citing the need to defend the independence of the judiciary, the ruling Kuomintang on Friday ruled out a "political solution" to an expected drawn-out legal battle against Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng.

In a written statement presented by KMT lawyers to Taiwan High Court, the party rejected the suggestion for the out-of-court settlement, saying that the case concerns the maintenance of judicial independence -- a universal value -- and the country's constitutional system.

Asking the KMT to consider a settlement is tantamount to advising the party to "compromise its insistence upon resisting influence peddling in judicial cases and upon defending the core values of democracy and rule of law, which is an independent judiciary," the statement said.

On a case that concerns basic rights and wrongs, it is difficult for the KMT to find any room for reconciliation and compromise, it said.

At a Taiwan High Court hearing Thursday, the presiding judge, Wei Li-chuan, urged the two sides to seek a "political solution to the political issue" as the court considers the case.

Asked by reporters about Wei's suggestion, Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li said President Ma Ying-jeou explained to KMT lawmakers during a gathering Thursday night that he was extremely shocked when he learned Aug. 31 that Wang is suspected of exercising his influence in a judicial case involving a senior opposition lawmaker.

Ma was quoted as telling the lawmakers that he had no choice but to do what he has decided to do, and that there was no conspiracy nor political struggle.

As president of the Republic of China and as KMT chairman, he could not face the people and members of the party if he had chosen not to face up to the problem, he was quoted as saying.

Li also said that the KMT cannot call for a halt now that the lawsuit has begun. "Until the conclusion of the legal process, the party will continue its interactions with Wang out of respect for him," she said.

In response, Wang told reporters that he believes the KMT will not consider seeking an out-of-court settlement. "We will simply follow the required procedure," he said.

Wang asked to be excused from a ceremony held at the Presidential Office in the morning. He and Ma have not met since Sept. 6, when it was revealed that Wang called the justice minister and the high court's chief prosecutor allegedly to lobby on behalf of fellow lawmaker Ker Chien-ming, who was involved in a breach-of-trust case.

Thursday's hearing was held to consider a KMT appeal against a lower court's decision on Sept. 13 to grant Wang an injunction allowing him to keep his KMT membership temporarily despite its revocation by the party.

Wang filed for the injunction at the Taipei District Court Sept. 11, shortly after the KMT revoked his membership for his alleged involvement in pressuring a prosecutor to drop an appeal against Ker's aquittal.

Due to the membership revocation, Wang faces disqualification as a KMT-appointed at-large member of the legislature and hence his removal as its president, a post he has held for 14 years.

In granting Wang's request, the court allowed him to continue to exercise his rights as a KMT member while pursuing 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.

The court has yet to hear the civil case, which could take months to reach a conclusion.

The high court is expected to rule on the KMT's appeal against the injunction next week.

The unprecedented case of a legislative speaker facing dismissal from his own party has been described as a "constitutional crisis" by the opposition parties.

(By Kelven Huang, Liu Shih-yi, Chen Ting-wei and Elizabeth Hsu)