While the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) appears to be trying to downplay the political squabble between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) over the past month, members of the party’s Central Standing Committee refuse to let the issue go and are demanding explanations.
The Ma-Wang showdown began on Aug. 31, when Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) briefed the president on information gathered via a wiretap allegedly showing improper lobbying by Wang on behalf of Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).
Observers say that Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, then tried to remove Wang from his post as legislative speaker, by suspending his party membership saying Wang had brought “shame on Taiwan’s judiciary and democratic history.”
Wang took the KMT court and the Taipei District Court granted him an injunction that let the speaker provisionally retain his party membership. The Taiwan High Court upheld the ruling after the KMT appealed it.
Ahead of its 19th party congress, which is to take place on Nov. 10 in Greater Taichung, the KMT is working overtime to print invitations to the summit. However, sources say the party has not addressed Wang’s invitation to: “Chairman Wang, of the party of chairmen” as it has in the past — a detail that symbolized Wang’s high stature within the KMT — but has instead addressed the invitation as: “To Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng.”
Meanwhile, the KMT Central Evaluation and Disciplinary Committee has also quietly removed the notice informing member of Wang’s membership revocation from the headquarters doors, in stark contrast to the very public methods party officials used to announce the suspension last month.
According to sources, no matter which side KMT members took in the Ma-Wang saga, many feel they cannot simply accept that the past month’s events be breezily pushed aside by the party leadership, adding that some KMT representatives may ask for explanations at the congress.
The source said that some KMT members were extremely critical of the party headquarters’ actions, saying that by taking a stance in what it had deemed “an issue with no middle ground,” the headquarters had put the party in a catch-22 situation.
KMT Central Standing Committee member Lee Te-wei (李德維) said that while it was good that party headquarters is toning down its stance on the squabble, the issue of justice must be dealt with.
“It must provide an answer, an explanation, or the members of the party are all fools,” Lee said.
Ma supporters who criticized Wang now find themselves in an awkward situation, while others like the son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), Sean Lien (連勝文), who backed Wang were heavily criticized by overseas party members.
“The party headquarters should give us justice,” Lee said.
“Wang’s stance on the revocation of his party membership has never changed. He considers himself ‘a member of the KMT forever,’ it was the party central leadership that has continually shifted its position,” Lee added.
“It started the issue and said Wang shamed Taiwan’s democracy, but now is softening its tone,” Lee said, but added: “The wound has been made and someone needs to step down to show they are willing to take responsibility.”