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KMT to appeal ruling on legislative speaker's membership (update)

2014/10/22 23:02:04

File photo of Charles Chen

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) decided Wednesday to appeal the Taiwan High Court's ruling that struck down the party's revocation of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's membership for alleged influence peddling.

President Ma Ying-jeou, who is chairman of the party, chose to go ahead with the appeal to the Supreme Court on the advice of lawyers and against calls from KMT heavyweights who have urged party unity ahead of local elections on Nov. 29.

KMT spokesman Charles Chen said the party chose to continue the suit to defend its system for evaluating and disciplining its members, and it is not specifically targeting Wang.

Losing his place in the party means Wang would also lose his long-served post as legislative speaker because he is a KMT-appointed legislator at large, but district and high court rulings have stayed the KMT's attempt to expel him.

Chen said a political party's power to discipline its members is vital to a healthy democracy.

Arguing there is "no option" left but to appeal, the spokesman urged big wigs in the party who opposed the move to understand the importance of the issues involved in the case.

In its ruling to uphold the lower courts' decision to struck down the KMT's punishment, Chen said, the high court dwelled only on technical and legal procedures while overlooking the substance of the case and ignoring the way in which the political parties operate.

He argued that the evaluation and discipline committee is to a party what a judge is to society, adding that if unelected judges have the authority to put convicts to death, the evaluation and discipline committee should retain the right to expel party members.

Without a functional disciplinary committee, he continued, the KMT would be unable to maintain party discipline.

He also asserted that the court reached its judgment by referring to the wrong law, an error that can only be remedied by the Supreme Court.

Chen dismissed concerns from within the KMT that the case would further alienate Wang, a powerful force in local politics, thereby dimming the party's chances of winning the year-end elections.

He said that as "a loyal KMT member," the speaker has spared no efforts to campaign on behalf of party candidates, and his interactions with Chairman Ma have not been affected in any way.

The KMT Evaluation and Discipline Committee expelled Wang from the party on Sept. 11, 2013 for what it called influence peddling on his part.

Wang denied the allegations and succeeded in having the Taipei District Court strike down the expulsion decision on March 19, 2014, letting him keep his job as the head of the Legislature.

The district court ruled that the committee, appointed by the party chief and not elected by KMT members, does not have the authority to expel party members.

The Taiwan High Court upheld the district court's decision on Sept. 26 and gave the KMT until Oct. 27 to file an appeal.

(By Maubo Chang)
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