The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) weighed in against the president's nominee for state public prosecutor-general, likely scuttling his nomination if the party can maintain discipline within its ranks.
The KMT caucus, which holds 90 legislative seats, held an informal poll to determine support for Chen Tsung-ming (
In the poll, 52 KMT lawmakers voted against Chen.
"In our caucus meeting, 52 lawmakers voted against Chen, 21 voted for him and two cast invalid ballots. We therefore decided to veto Chen [today]," KMT Legislative caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (
The legislature will vote on Chen's appointment this morning, after the president's previous nominee, chief prosecutor of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office Hsieh Wen-ding (
The president nominated Chen on May 26 last year but the vote on his confirmation was not placed on the legislative agenda until last week.
Tsai added that all KMT lawmakers present today will be required to cast invalid ballots. The party will discipline anyone who defies the order or who is absent without asking for leave in advance, Tsai said.
Of the 218 legislative seats that are filled, Chen is expected to gain 85 votes from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), 12 votes from the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and seven votes from the Non-partisan Solidarity Union (NPSU), said a DPP lawmaker, speaking on condition of anonymity.
If the KMT's threats of punishment keep its lawmakers from supporting Chen, the key to his nomination could be the People First Party (PFP). Its lawmakers kept mum on the party's stance yesterday.
The KMT said that it lacked faith in the nominee, calling his independence into question.
"We don't think Chen will be a competent top prosecutor, as his performance during the legislature's review didn't demonstrate his capacity to resist political pressure," Tsai said.
While the PFP's stance on the vote remained unclear, there is speculation that the party intends to support Chen.
Chen rejected an order from the Ministry of Justice (then under KMT control) to summon former PFP Chairman James Soong (
The summons would have seriously damaged Soong's credibility as he began his presidential bid.
Meanwhile, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
Ma said he had expressed his opposition to the nominee late on Tuesday night, challenging his integrity and independence as a prosecutor.
DPP caucus whip Yeh Yi-chin (
"We do not understand what kind of top prosecutor the KMT really wants. DPP supporters have started to speculate that what the KMT wants is a top prosecutor who will not indict Ma over his alleged misuse of his mayoral special allowance," Yeh told a press conference.
Amendments made to the Organic Law of Court Organization (
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih
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