President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday talked and shook hands at the Double Ten National Day celebration, as the two met for the first time since Ma accused Wang of improper lobbying, leading to a serious political rift.
The interaction between Ma and Wang became the center of attention at the ceremony amid calls from politicians and the public to end the so-called “September political strife.”
As a gesture of goodwill, Ma addressed Wang as “Legislative Speaker Wang” in his Double Ten National Day speech, after seeking his ouster as head of the legislature earlier.
Wang praised the eight national prospects Ma presented in his speech.
The two exchanged handshakes five times throughout the two-hour ceremony, and chatted about the performance on several occasions. First lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青), who was seated between the two, also talked with both of them during the ceremony.
The political impasse between Ma and Wang began when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), with Ma as chairman, revoked Wang’s membership over allegations of improper lobbying.
The KMT has lately softened its stance, saying it would not appeal Wang’s injunction suit against the KMT’s revocation of his membership.
As the director of the National Day Celebration Organizing Committee, Wang yesterday accompanied Ma throughout the ceremony. He entered the Presidential Office to accompany Ma to the ceremony at 10am and explained the ceremony’s procedures to the first couple.
As they watched the performance, Ma and Wang both put on straw hats prepared by the committee. The normally poker-faced Chow wore a smile and even helped Ma adjust jos hat, creating a cordial atmosphere at the ceremony.
When Wang entered the Presidential Office and invited Ma and Chow to attend the ceremony, Ma and Wang discussed a wide range of topics from the design of the ceremony’s stage to the weather and Wang’s morning walks, Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said.
Lee said the two did not touch on the issues of improper lobbying or wiretapping.
Wang shrugged off media questions if his interaction with the president signified that they had broken the ice, saying: “There is no ice to break.”
Ma did not comment on his interaction with Wang. However, in his speech, the president stressed the importance of judicial independence in building a civil and democratic society.
The remarks echoed his previous pledges to seek justice and defend judicial independence in dealing with allegations involving improper lobbying by Wang.