The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday concluded its investigation into allegations that former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) disclosed official secrets and solicited their disclosure, charging him with contravention of the Criminal Code, the Communication Security and Surveillance Act (通訊保障及監察法) and the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法).
Two years ago, former prosecutor-general Huang Shih-ming was convicted and given a prison sentence, but the investigation into Ma’s actions could not begin until he stepped down as president. Not stopping at violating the Constitution, causing political turmoil and violating fundamental human rights to purge his political enemies is a stain on Ma’s image as a temperate and gentle person.
Ma illegally used the Special Investigation Division’s wiretapping unit to obtain intelligence and instructed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Evaluation and Discipline Committee to expel then-legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) in an attempt to deprive Wang of his status as legislator-at-large and his position as speaker.
Not only was this one of the main political incidents of 2013, it also had a major influence on the Sunflower movement the following year and the legislative and presidential elections last year.
The division’s illegal wiretapping involved an operator at the Legislative Yuan, news of which set off a storm of protests from the government, opposition parties and the public.
In February 2015, the High Court ruled that Huang had disclosed secret information, including information and communication records about an ongoing investigation, to the president and the premier. The court sentenced Huang to 15 months in prison, commutable to a fine, for violating the Communication Security and Surveillance Act and the Criminal Code.
Huang’s verdict anticipated Ma’s fate after stepping down as president. Perhaps time will tell whether Huang will be allowed to keep his pension as a result of any backdoor deals.
The so-called “September strife” was probably the straw that broke the back of the Ma administration. In 2008, Ma had full control of the three main branches of government and not even the KMT Central Standing Committee would utter a dissenting opinion.
An abstract ideology and a power struggle were the reasons Ma had problems tolerating Wang. During their race for the party chairmanship in 2005, Ma leveled corruption accusations against Wang, perhaps foreshadowing the 2013 clash.
It seems Ma was attempting to put an end to qualitative changes that were taking place in the KMT and did not tolerate that more Taiwan-oriented people were becoming dominant.
During the September strife, it was not difficult to see that Ma would go to any length to weed out people with differing opinions.
The preposterous thing was that although Ma doubled as president and KMT chairman, he lost the political battle, which planted the seeds for the defeat of the pro-China faction. If it had not occurred against the backdrop of the September strife, it is quite possible that the development of the Sunflower movement could have taken a different turn.
In September last year, Ma revealed the content of preparatory talks for his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in a public address, although the negotiation process and the content of the talks had been labeled a state secret by Ma’s administration, which refused to let the legislature monitor the process.