Ma has been preparing for a long time to get rid of this imagined thorn in his side. His plans can be traced back at least to June 28 and June 29, when the Special Investigation Division of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office tapped into telephone conversations between Wang and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘). Late at night on Aug. 31, as heavy rains caused floods and landslides around Taiwan, Ma received the records of those phone conversations that prosecutors were using as evidence, which were delivered to him in person by Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘).
The outcome of this was that Ma picked Sept. 6, the very day on which Wang went abroad to host his daughter’s wedding, to make a string of moves aimed at getting rid of Wang. In the few short days since then, Taiwan has begun to look as if it has gone back to the repressive days of former presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).
When Chiang Kai-shek was president, he could go over the head of the courts and sign anybody’s death warrant. Taiwan has become a lot more democratic since then, but now Ma thinks he can get the legislative speaker removed from office in just a few hours. He feels completely unconstrained by public opinion, the Constitution and the rule of law. All the principles of procedural justice are simply rubbish as far as Ma is concerned.
If Ma can get away with that, then perhaps if at some point he wants to raise China’s five-star red flag over the Presidential Office, he will also be able to get it done in just a few seconds.
Ma could not have become the autocrat he is without help from of a network of accomplices and supporting frameworks. Chief among these is the KMT. One member of the party’s Central Standing Committee said during the KMT’s Central Evaluation and Discipline Committee meeting on Wednesday last week that it was the most shameful day in that committee’s history. To make matters worse, the KMT’s legislative caucus started stumping for Deputy Speaker Legislative Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) to take Wang’s place on Thursday last week, without even waiting for the procedure required to revoke Wang’s status to be completed. Of course KMT legislators did not say a word about the prosecutors’ use of phone taps.
Over the last few days, many academics and civic groups said that a party’s disciplinary proceedings alone cannot decide whether the legislative speaker goes or stays. These observers have been saying that the legislature should commence impeachment proceedings against Ma. They say that the legislature should refuse to annul Wang’s status as a lawmaker, and it should instead let its Discipline Committee hold an independent investigation into Wang’s case.
However, considering the reality of where power lies, all these suggestions will probably come to nothing.
Next in the list of Ma’s collaborators is the Central Election Commission. Although it is supposed to be an independent entity in charge of holding elections, the commission jumped into action as soon as it received a letter from the KMT confirming that Wang was no longer a member of the party. Although dusk was approaching, the commission did not leave the matter to be dealt with the next day, as one might expect. Instead, in an unprecedented display of administrative efficiency, it sent an electronic document to the legislature at a little past 7pm, instructing it to cancel Wang’s status as a legislator. It is already common enough for people to say that Taiwan’s law courts are run by the KMT, but now it looks as though the commission is run by the KMT too.