With comments by Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) on Wednesday casting more suspicions of conspiracy over what media have termed the “September political strife,” two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) heavyweights yesterday called for a motion of no confidence against the Cabinet and the abolition of the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office to restore functions of the nation’s constitutional system they said were left paralyzed by the incident.
“Ever since the September political strife, the three most significant components of the nation’s constitutional system — president, administrative branch and legislative body — have become paralyzed and are unable to function properly,” former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) said at the party’s fifth Huashan meeting, the latest in a series of nine meetings to be held to discuss the party’s China policy.
Such a critical constitutional crisis could only be addressed by resorting to the mechanisms of democracy, Hsu said, calling on the DPP legislative caucus to initiate a no-confidence motion against Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).
After the premier is recalled, the party should proceed to demand that Ma dissolve the legislature to allow a full legislative re-election, he said.
Until then, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) should both run in the election so that people could be the judge in the alleged improper lobbying case brought against them,” Hsu said.
Hsu added that Ma’s refusal to dissolve the legislature would be tantamount to his tacit admission that he was wrong for orchestrating the political strife against the duo.
According to the Constitution, the legislature can propose a vote of no-confidence against the premier with the signatures of at least one-third of lawmakers.
If the motion is approved by at least half of the legislators, the premier must resign within 10 days and may request that the president dismiss the legislature in return.
New legislative elections must be convened within 60 days after the dissolution of the legislature.
The September political strife refers to the SID’s allegedly illegal wiretapping of Ker, its accusations that Wang had improperly lobbied for Ker in a breach of trust case against him and the subsequent decision by the Central Evaluation and Discipline Committee of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), of which Ma is chairman, to revoke the speaker’s party membership.
Critics and the opposition parties have cast doubts on the legitimacy and motives of the division’s wiretap operations, drawing parallels between the case and the 1972 to 1974 Watergate scandal in the US.
Controversy over the case further intensified after Huang backtracked on his previous statements at a legislative session on Wednesday that the division had only tapped Ker’s telephone and that he had met with Ma just once before he made public the transcripts of wiretapped telephone conversations between Wang and Ker to back the division’s allegations on Sept. 6.
While fielding questions from DPP lawmakers, including Ker, Huang acknowledged that the division had also wiretapped the telephone of Lin Shiow-tao (林秀濤), the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office prosecutor in charge of Ker’s case, during its investigation into Ker’s alleged involvement in a corruption case, and that he had discussed the matter with Ma twice in person, on Aug. 31 and on Sept. 1.
Hsu said Huang should be held “politically accountable” for the division’s wiretapping operations and be subjected to severe punishment.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) of the DPP, who also attended the Huashan meeting, said Huang’s reporting of the matter directly to Ma constituted a serious violation of the Constitution and that the division should be abolished immediately as it had done more harm than good.
DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said the party was mulling actions against Ma over his overstepping of the constitutional boundaries of presidential authority, including seeking a constitutional interpretation, recalling the president and initiating a no-confidence vote against the premier.
In response, KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) said that if Ker was so confident of his innocence, he should step out of the legislature’s protection and subject himself to public scrutiny.
Yin also rejected Ker’s allegations that it was KMT’s Culture and Communication Committee director Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑) who arranged the meetings between Ma and Huang.
“Ker is wrong for thinking that he could shift the focus from himself by making groundless accusations against innocent people, because it only shows that he is trying to avoid talking about the case itself and is afraid of coming under public scrutiny,” Yin said.