At the request of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday revoked Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) party membership, a move that could strip him of the position he has occupied since 1999, the longest in the nation’s history.
If Wang, a KMT legislator-at-large, fails to reverse the decision through appeals to the party leadership or through other judicial means, his status as a lawmaker will be nullified and he will lose his post as speaker.
The decision was reached by a meeting of the KMT’s Central Evaluation and Discipline Committee.
Before the meeting began, Ma delivered a harshly worded statement to the media at 8:30am saying that the influence-peddling case in which Wang is allegedly involved “disqualified” him from being the legislative speaker.
It was the second strongly worded statement about Wang that the president has made since the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID) on Friday last week accused Wang of meddling in a breach of trust lawsuit on behalf of Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) by urging two high-ranking judicial officials to influence a prosecutor into refraining from appealing Ker’s not-guilty verdict.
Huang Chao-yuan (黃昭元), head of the disciplinary committee, said the decision was made after more than two hours of discussion in which it was concluded that Wang “has seriously damaged the party’s image and reputation.”
Photo: Mandy Cheng / AFP
The 15-seat committee was composed of Huang, deputy committee head John Shen (沈榮峰) and 13 other members whose identities were not made public. Four members were absent for various reasons.
Ma, who heads the KMT as chairman, arrived at the party’s headquarters early in the morning and stayed in his office until the committee handed down the ruling at about 11:30am, apparently to see if it would oblige his request that Wang be removed from the party.
As a result, Ma’s 10:15am meeting at the Presidential Office with El Salvadoran Parliament Speaker Sigfrido Reyes was canceled and Reyes was received by Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) instead.
At the 8:30am press conference, Ma said he has refrained from saying that Wang should resign on his own accord since the SID disclosed the case.
“What I had hoped was that Wang would voluntarily offer to resign as legislative speaker and as KMT legislator-at-large to preserve some dignity for the legislature and the KMT,” Ma said.
Now that Wang has failed to offer to resign, the responsibility to deprive him of his office lay with the KMT, the president said.
“Doing otherwise would be tantamount to acquiescing to judicial dignity being trampled upon,” Ma said.
He again criticized Wang for his “evasiveness” about the “fact” that he “has engaged in influence peddling in Ker’s [case].”
The “hard facts” of Wang’s involvement are obvious, but Wang “didn’t even apologize” for his misconduct, Ma said.
Addressing a meeting of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee in the afternoon, the president applauded the disciplinary committee for making the “right” decision, although it was a “painful” one.
He added that Wang had contributed significantly to the party over the years, “but the [influence-peddling] incident was a chance for the party to wipe away [our] past mistakes and engage in reform, which is the only way to move the party forward and to promote party unity.”
KMT officials who declined to be named said the legislative speaker attended the meeting for just five minutes and told the disciplinary committee that he had neither interfered with a judicial process nor violated the party’s regulations.
After Wang left, Ma was invited to give his position on the matter, a KMT official said, adding that the president had teared up as he talked about his feelings on Wang’s alleged misconduct.
During the discussion, concerns were raised that the membership revocation would be a disadvantage when soliciting votes in southern Taiwan and one attendee questioned Wang’s loyalty to the party, a KMT official said.
A member of the disciplinary committee said he wondered why Wang had reportedly tried to help Ker, but not other party members involved in lawsuits, like Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如), former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) and Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong (張通榮).
Later yesterday, Central Election Commission Vice Chairman Liu I-chou (劉義周) confirmed that the commission had received a message from KMT headquarters voiding Wang’s membership in the afternoon, adding that it forwarded the notice to the Legislative Yuan.
“We received the notice in the afternoon and have forwarded it to the Legislative Yuan,” Liu told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview.
“The Legislative Yuan will now remove Wang as a legislator and notify us in writing once they void his status as a legislator,” Liu said.
“Upon receiving confirmation from the Legislative Yuan, we will formally announce the name of the person who will take over Wang’s seat,” Liu added.
Liu added that, according to the law, Wang would lose his status as a legislator the same day his party membership is rescinded.
Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin
BUSY DAY: The same day the USS ‘Barry’ passed through the Strait, Taiwan was ending its Han Kuang military exercises, while China said it conducted an exercise near Taiwan A US Navy ship on Friday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the ninth time a US military vessel has transited the Strait since US President Joe Biden took office in January. The USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit through the Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the journey through international waters was conducted “in accordance with international law.” “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Navy said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.” The Ministry
FRUIT SPAT: The COA said China had not given evidence for halting wax and custard apple imports, adding that it would spend NT$1bn on promoting sales of the fruit Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns. China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today. China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the