High Court rules against KMT on Wang Jin-pyng

GOING IN CIRCLES?:KMT lawmakers are urging Ma to drop the disruptive case that party lawyers have repeatedly argued does not fall within the jurisdiction of courts

By Rich Chang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters

Tue, Oct 01, 2013 - Page 1

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday lost an appeal against the decision of the Taipei District Court granting an injunction to preserve Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) party membership amid snowballing controversy over a probe into alleged improper lobbying by Wang.

The Taiwan High Court said the KMT could appeal the decision to the Supreme Court within 10 days, during which time Wang would temporarily maintain his membership and legislative speaker status.

The High Court decided it was unable to predict how long a civil lawsuit would take, but if Wang’s membership were revoked now and he lost his KMT legislator-in-large status, it would irreversibly damage his personal rights, High Court spokesman Hung Kuang-tsan (洪光燦) told a press conference.

In this case, the High Court ruled Wang’s rights have priority over the rights of the KMT, Hung said.

The spokesman said if the party allowed Wang to exercise his membership rights during the lawsuit period, the total legislative seats of the KMT would be affected.

Hung said that although the party argued that its party discipline, reputation and social standing had been affected by Wang’s alleged lobbying, if he was still a party member after the lawsuit, the KMT could still take appropriate disciplinary action against him based on principles of fairness, justice and democratic procedure. In this way, the KMT’s reputation and social standing could be recovered.

KMT attorneys have argued that the court “has no jurisdiction” whatsoever over the case, because disciplinary procedures against party members are “a matter within the scope of the autonomy of the party,” but Hung said Wang’s membership and exercise of membership rights were within the scope of the rights of the individual, which are under the court’s jurisdiction.

Wang filed the civil suit at the Taipei District Court on Sept. 11 to request an injunction against the KMT’s revocation of his membership.

The district court ruled on Sept. 13 that Wang could keep his rights as a member until a final ruling, on the condition that he pay a NT$9.38 million (US$315,000) guarantee.

At the time, Presidential Office spokesperson Garfie Li (李佳霏) said that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who doubles as KMT chairman, “respected” the court’s decision, but the KMT would “continue to appeal” against the ruling.

The president found it “unacceptable” to drop a case against the legislative speaker for allegedly improperly lobbying the former minister of justice and the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office head prosecutor Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌), Lee said.

“There is no way to blur the line between right and wrong on the matter,” she said.

"For the president, there is a judicial red line which must not be crossed. Beyond this line, there are no gray areas, no room for compromise,” Lee added.

Until the case is settled, Ma will continue to refer to Wang as “speaker” and will “maintain proper etiquette” when interacting with him, she said.

Despite the ongoing legal dispute, the government will press on with its policy agenda to ensure smooth governance, Lee said.

KMT spokesperson Yin Wei (殷偉) said the party plans to appeal the Taiwan High Court’s ruling at the Supreme Court soon.

Wang said he “respected” the KMT’s decision and was grateful to the party lawmakers who are urging Ma to drop the lawsuit.

One of these lawmakers, KMT Legislator Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井), praised the Taiwan High Court’s decision.

“Now that the KMT has lost twice, it should call off the lawsuit,” Liao said. “It’s time for the government to focus on economic issues.”

Liao is one of more than 10 KMT lawmakers preparing a statement asking Ma to end the suit.

“People are already fed up with the KMT relentlessly pursuing this case,” KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) said.

KMT Legislator Chen Ken-te (陳根德) said he hoped the joint efforts of the lawmakers would make Ma change his mind.

“A state leader should have a big heart and put people’s interests first,” Chen said.