Tue, Apr 24, 2007 - Page 1 News List

DPP lawmaker set to challenge Ma's candidacy

CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS? Yu Jan-daw said he would file for a ruling by the grand justices in order to determine if a convicted person could be president

By Flora Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yu Jan-daw (余政道) yesterday said he would apply for or urge the Central Election Commission to seek a constitutional interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices concerning the President and Vice President Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法) if former Chinese Nationalist Party chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) officially registers as a presidential candidate.

Yu told a press conference that a constitutional crisis would arise if the court did not make a final ruling in Ma's special allowance case before polling day in next year's presidential election.

Yu said although the Constitution stipulates that the president enjoys immunity from prosecution unless charged with sedition or treason, the Constitution does not specify whether such immunity applies to a legal case the president has been involved in prior to his or her inauguration.

"If Ma were elected, whether the special allowance case should continue would be problematic. Taiwan may also have to hold the first presidential by-election ever in its history," he said.

Showing the press figures for several major elections over the past decade, Yu said that a by-election could cost the nation over NT$1.2 billion (US$36 million), and that money could be better used to cover the cost of school lunches -- NT$500 per month for primary and junior high school students -- for 200,000 school children for a whole year.

Meanwhile, KMT Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) yesterday denied a report that the party was considering adding a proviso to its "black-gold exclusion clause" in a bid to ensure Ma's presidential candidacy.

The clause disqualifies party members from joining a presidential race if they are found guilty in court, while the proviso would exclude party members convicted as a result of "political persecution" from being subject to the clause.

While Ma is the frontrunner to secure the party's presidential nomination, the clause may cause him trouble as he is still standing trial in his special allowance case.

A report in the Chinese Language Liberty Times, (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper), said that some pro-Ma lawmakers favor introducing the proviso rather than amending the clause because the proviso is a "less controversial move."

Supporters of the move said the decision on whether a conviction was the result of persecution would be made by the KMT's Central Standing Committee, the report said.

Su said that so far the party had no such plan to introduce such a proviso.

But he added that the exclusion clause was in need of review because some party members were concerned that the regulation might hold the party back.

That the clause could be used by its rivals as a tool to sabotage the KMT was also possible, Su said.

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