The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday announced it would pull out of a scheduled debate between party Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Sunday amid intensified controversy over allegations of influence peddling.
“As Ma has been persecuting Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and jeopardizing the Constitution, we think that it is not a good time to participate in the debate,” DPP spokesperson Wang Min-sheng (王閔生) told a press conference.
The debate, which was to be televised by the Public Television Service, would have been about the cross-strait service trade pact signed in June.
There has been widespread concern about the negative impact of a potential influx of Chinese investment and workers. According to a legislative resolution, the agreement will be screened and voted upon clause-by-clause in the upcoming legislative session, which begins on Tuesday.
The DPP stayed low-key about Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) infighting, despite closely monitoring developments, choosing to focus on the negative impact on Taiwan’s constitutional mechanism of Ma and the SID’s alleged politically motivated persecution of Wang.
The DPP’s Central Standing Committee (CSC) reached a consensus that KMT infighting has resulted in a constitutional crisis, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) told reporters yesterday after the weekly CSC meeting.
The DPP urged the immediate suspension and investigation of Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘), who had abused his power during the investigation process, Lin said.
The DPP legislative caucus would propose abolishing the SID, which it says has become a political tool, in the new legislative session.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) described the case as the administrative and judicial branches’ collaborative crackdown on the legislative branch, a violation of their separation of powers.
“The most important thing at this moment is protecting the constitutional mechanism and the Taiwanese people, rather than benefits for specific political parties or individuals,” Hsieh said.
The SID’s wiretapping of senior politicians could be legal, but would be unconstitutional, Hsieh said, adding that local prosecutors’ offices might not be able to reject the SID’s application for wiretapping because of senior SID prosecutors.
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) warned in a press release that the interests of specific parties or individuals should not be placed above the stability of the nation’s democracy and constitution.
Ma’s sabotage of Wang’s KMT membership and the capacity of the legislative speaker has created a constitutional crisis, Tsai said.
She said legislation should be revised to make sure the speaker enjoys political neutrality and freedom from party interference.
DPP headquarters and politicians declined to make further comments or speculate about the fierce infighting between Ma and Wang, saying that was “the KMT’s business.”
However, DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that Wang, who has filed a provisional injunction against his expulsion from the KMT, would be able to retain the position of the speaker until all legal procedures are completed.
At a separate setting, former representative to Japan Lo Fu-chen (羅福全) said that whatever politicians say is irrelevant, because the people will make their own judgement.
“It doesn’t matter what politicians say, because in a democracy, it’s the people who have the final say, and they will watch and make their own judgement,” Lo said at a press conference to launch his autobiography.
“Despite what’s happening, I’m optimistic about Taiwan’s future, because the problems we are encountering are part of the democratization process,” he said.
Former presidential adviser Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), who also took part in the press conference, said that although the details of the situation and how it would develop are unclear, its nature was grave.
“I think it’s a very, very serious issue that the government wiretapped the parliamentary speaker and the caucus whip of the opposition party.”
“I think this should not happen,” Peng said.
Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin