Sat, Jan 30, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Control Yuan to meet Ma over MRT

WENSHAN-NEIHU PROBEDemocratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen said Ma should not try to obfuscate his role by inviting Control Yuan members to a tea party

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Control Yuan yesterday said it arranged a meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to talk abour Taipei City’s problem-ridden Wenshan-Neihu MRT line after both sides agreed that the meeting would take the form of a “gathering for tea” rather than a subpoena.

“To be honest, if we had disagreed, we wouldn’t have been able to meet with the president and consult with him about the decision-making process for the Wen-Hu Line,” said Control Yuan member Ger Yeong-kuang (葛永光), who is in charge of the watchdog’s probe into the MRT line.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) has told reporters several times “that the president will cooperate with Control Yuan members.”

“Although Wang has expressed that opinion more than once to the media, when we talked to Presidential Office staffers they had some constitutional concerns ... The president then suggested having a ‘gathering for tea’ to exchange ideas with us,” Ger said at a press conference initially held to respond to recent allegations of abuse of power at the Control Yuan.

Ger said the Presidential Office had disagreed with the Control Yuan’s position that it was entitled to investigate and impeach the president and vice president over alleged irregularities in previous positions of authority.

The Presidential Office believes Article 52 of the Constitution grants the president immunity from judicial proceedings unless he or she is charged with sedition, Ger said.

Both sides later agreed to seek an interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices, Ger said, but he did not comment on whether the move would delay the investigation, which he said was “coming to a close.”

“We haven’t decided yet on when and how to bring the matter to the grand justices, but we expect to do so. [After the gathering for tea], if the Presidential Office doesn’t [ask for an interpretation], we will,” Ger said.

Part of the controversy lies in a 1997 constitutional amendment that transferred the power to impeach the president and vice president from the Control Yuan to the legislature.

“After the constitutional amendment, we don’t have the right to impeach an incumbent president for something he has done during his presidency, but the Constitution does not say we cannot investigate the president for what he has done in a previous position,” Ger said.

Ger said out of respect for the head of the state, the Control Yuan intended “to consult with the former Taipei City mayor” rather than “question the president.”

Ger also insisted that the Control Yuan has the right to subpoena the incumbent president.

Ger said it took more than a month for the meeting with Ma to be arranged and that it is scheduled to take place sometime before Feb. 14.

Control Yuan members would continue with the investigation and meet with Ma because “the report would otherwise raise some important questions that remain unanswered,” Control Yuan member Chou Yan-sun (周陽山) said.

“We can’t justify telling the public that we can’t investigate [Ma’s] role in this case simply because he is now the president and because of that the report won’t be complete,” Chou said.

Ger said Control Yuan members initially suggested meeting with Ma at the Taipei Guest House, but Ma proposed the meeting be held at the Presidential Office.

“We suggested meeting at the Taipei Guest House as that would help lessen any constitutional controversy ... We respected the president’s decision,” Ger said. “Meanwhile, Constitutional Interpretation No. 627 says subpoenaing the president as a witness can take place anywhere.”

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