President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday denied trying to eliminate Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) from politics amid the recent rift in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and said his efforts to handle Wang’s alleged improper lobbying were made in accordance with the law.
In an interview with CtiTV (中天電視), Ma said there was no so-called “elimination plan” targeting Wang, and he brushed aside concerns that Wang could collaborate with the opposition to form a majority alliance in the legislature against the KMT.
“I was never dissatisfied with Legislative Speaker Wang, or had any plans to eliminate him… We will continue to promote policies during the lawsuit because we must tell the difference between right and wrong,” Ma said.
He reiterated that it was unacceptable for a legislative speaker to be involved in “illegal lobbying” and stayed firm on his stance that Wang should step down from his post.
“If the judiciary could be gotten around, how can young people believe in the justice of our judicial system?” he asked.
The interview was the first one Ma has given since the allegations were raised against Wang. Insisting on judicial independence and justice, Ma said that it is a president’s duty to defend the judicial system under his administration, and said the KMT will continue with the lawsuit.
The KMT’s Central Evaluation and Discipline Committee decided on Wednesday last week to revoke Wang’s party membership. Wang filed for a court injunction against the party and the Taipei District Court agreed to allow him to retain his KMT membership and rights until the case is settled by courts after he submitted a guarantee of about NT$9.38 million (US$314,300). The KMT filed an appeal.
When asked to comment about the KMT’s battle against Wang, Ma shrugged off speculation that Wang could seek to form an alliance with some KMT lawmakers and the opposition camp.
“I believe most KMT caucus members would understand that the KMT has been able to hold the reins of the nation because of our election victories and because we enjoy a majority in the legislature,” he said.
Ma has seen his support rate plummet to a new low following the party fracas. A recent poll found just 9.2 percent of respondents approved of Ma, the first time his rating has dipped to single-digits.
Ma yesterday said he has received positive responses over the past week, including some editorials and letters from supporters.
First lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青), who is known for often being critical of her husband, has also expressed her support, he said, while urging him to enhance communication with the public over the incident.
Meanwhile, former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) voiced concerns about the party’s unity.
He urged Ma to listen to different opinions, while declining to confirm whether he would help mediate between the party and Wang.
“President Ma and Speaker Wang are key figures in the party, and we don’t want to see either one get hurt… We understand President Ma’s effort to eliminate ‘illegal lobbying,’ but we also expect him to listen to others’ opinions,” he said.