Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) yesterday proclaimed his innocence and demanded that the Legislative Yuan’s Discipline Committee review his alleged role in a case of improper lobbying which triggered a national political controversy.
The senior lawmaker, accused of asking Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and high-ranking judicial officials to use their influence to sway a legal case, told a press conference that he demanded the committee review his alleged wrongdoing in “an open and transparent way.”
“I would accept whatever conclusion the committee reaches and punishment it decides upon,” Ker said.
However, the lawmaker said his request came with preconditions, as he also demanded that the committee — of which eight members are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators — be re-established and that he is given enough time to present his own case.
Ker’s alleged misconduct was arguably the origin of the ongoing political strife between Wang and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who many believe has been using the matter to remove Wang from his position as legislative speaker.
However, the allegation also put Ker and the DPP in a difficult situation, with many people and several DPP members criticizing them for inaction on dealing with the alleged misconduct which could tarnish the party’s image.
Ker told the press conference that he did not ask for an investigation until yesterday, one day after the new legislative session began on Tuesday, because he wanted to wait until the new session, when the Discipline Committee begins its operations.
DPP heavyweights, including DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former premiers Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), recognized Ker’s proactive move to fight for his own integrity.
Meanwhile, the negotiation between political parties to allow Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) to deliver a report to the legislature broke down yesterday after Jiang was blocked from making the report on Tuesday.
Opposition lawmakers boycotted Jiang’s scheduled report because of his refusal to apologize for comments they said showed contempt for the legislature, as a party negotiation hosted by Wang ended without reaching a consensus.
The DPP demanded that Jiang apologize to Wang and the legislature before speaking on the podium, because Jiang infringed on the constitutional mechanism by saying that Wang was “incompetent” and endorsed a similar accusation by Ma against Wang in a press conference.
The second round of negotiation, also convened by Wang, again failed yesterday, with the KMT caucus and representatives from the Executive Yuan refusing to meet the demand for an apology, despite the DPP agreeing to abandon its four other demands. They were the abolition of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID), suspension of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant’s construction, the cancelation of the scheduled electricity rate hike and for Jiang to report to the legislature about alleged illegal wiretapping.
The failed negotiation meant that Jiang’s next opportunity to make his report, on Tuesday next week, may also end in failure.
Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) said after the negotiations that “apologizing was not an issue,” because Jiang had on several occasions offered explanations about his comments and the premier’s comment had been “distorted” by the media.
The KMT could not agree with the DPP’s “excessive demands,” KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said.