President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has used his powers as chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and as president to pick a political fight with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平). Despite Ma’s apparent position of power, he has lost the fight, and Wang has managed to retain his KMT membership, his legislator-at-large seat and his speakership.
Ma has claimed the moral high ground by opposing what he says was improper lobbying by Wang, but both the media and the public have opposed the president, pushing his approval rating down to an unprecedented 9.2 percent. This is a great setback for Ma, but it is even more embarrassing for Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).
When Jiang was to present a report to the legislature on the opening day of the current legislative session, he had to spend the entire day facing a barrage of criticism and ridicule. The reason for this was Jiang’s earlier statement that he was “prepared to face a legislature without Wang.”
Opposition legislators accused Jiang of being involved in the ongoing political struggle and violating the constitutional system, and demanded that he step down. “The legislature is prepared to face a Cabinet without Jiang Yi-huah,” they said.
Jiang has played a supporting role in the political infighting. He has showed up at every major event, but has never had a chance to say much.
The Cabinet is the supervising authority of the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and the prosecutor-general, but Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) bypassed the Cabinet and reported the alleged improper lobbying to Ma, completely ignoring the premier.
Seeing that Wang was about to be forced out, Jiang drew strong criticism by making a statement in support of Ma. From a constitutional perspective, the legislature is expected to monitor the Cabinet. It is extremely inappropriate for the Cabinet to try to direct the legislature’s operations. Legislators were right to attack Jiang because of his remarks.
Jiang has refused to admit his constant mistakes and instead blamed them on the media. Angered media outlets have repeatedly printed and broadcast his statement, while Internet users have said that the premier’s comments and actions are unworthy of a political scientist and that he is not worthy of returning to academia as a lecturer.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus set five conditions for allowing Jiang to take the podium: an apology, halting the impending electricity price increases, the abolishment of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID), the removal of Huang from his post as prosecutor-general and a halt on construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).
These demands were designed to make Jiang look bad, because although the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office falls under the ministry, the president, not the premier, appoints the prosecutor-general, with the legislature’s approval. The electricity price increases, nuclear power plant and SID demands could all be handled by the legislature without Jiang’s agreement.
Despite all this, the most important thing is that government operations return to normal. The current situation must not be allowed to drag on, causing social division and weighing down the economy. While Ma and Wang continue with their lawsuits, government policy implementation should return to normal.
Jiang’s statement was inappropriate. The legislature does not fall under the Cabinet and it is not for the premier to say what it should do. He should apologize to both the legislature and the media.
For its part, the legislature should end its protests and refer Wang and DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) to the legislature’s Discipline Committee to prevent the public from turning against it.