Campaigners yesterday announced plans to file lawsuits against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as his presidential immunity from prosecution is about to expire.
At a forum hosted by the Taiwan Forever Association, association director Steve Wang (王思為) said his group would join the Northern Taiwan Society and Taiwan Association of University Professors today calling for prosecutors to launch investigations into alleged power abuse and corruption by Ma, and calling for prosecutors to restrict Ma from leaving the nation until investigations are concluded.
“While there have been many important criminal cases that have occurred during Ma’s terms as president and Taipei mayor, criminal investigations have been put on hold because of his immunity from prosecution while president,” Wang said, adding that Ma’s immunity would end once his term ends on May 20.
The lawsuit applications focus on Ma’s role in the leaking of details in a controversial wiretapping investigation of former Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), unexplained increases in his personal wealth while in office and the allegation that he worked to the benefit of corporations during his time as Taipei mayor, Steve Wang said.
Lawyer Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎), another Taiwan Forever Association director, said the Taiwan High Court’s final ruling on wiretapping charges against Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) stated that Ma had instigated Huang to leak information related to the case, as well as leaking information himself.
“Huang would not have leaked the information to [then-premier] Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), if Ma had not called him on Sept. 14, 2013, to ask him to leak it,” Huang said. “The weight of the materials in the ruling does not just point to a strong suspicion that Ma was implicated — the evidence is so clear that he has to be held responsible.”
Huang Shih-ming last year paid an NT$457,000 fine for violating the confidentiality of an ongoing investigation by revealing the results of the investigation to Ma, an action that raised questions over whether it opened the possibility for the abuse of presidential power.
Taipei Clean Government Committee member Jerry Cheng (鄭文龍) said there was also evidence that Ma had illegally profited the Farglory Group (遠雄集團) by agreeing to reduce the firm’s property royalties to zero for the Taipei Dome project at a secret meeting with company chairman Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄).
Taiwan Forever Association secretary-general Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) said that there were also questions about the increase of Ma’s reported assets while in office, adding that increases had outstripped his income when donations were taken into account.
Restricting Ma from leaving the nation while investigation is under way was reasonable given treatment of former Democratic Progressive Party president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who was detained during an investigation into corruption allegations after he left office, Kao said, adding that Ma matches the criteria used to detain Chen, including strong suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, substantial national influence and possibility of flight.