Wed, May 16, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ex-president Ma vows to appeal conviction

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Former president Ma Ying-jeou yesterday talks to reporters at a cultural event in Taipei.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday vowed to appeal a decision by the Taiwan High Court to convict him of leaking classified information, saying that he aims to not only defend his rights, but also to seek clarification on the boundaries of the presidential mandate.

“As [yesterday’s] ruling reached a different conclusion than the three previous verdicts, we need to clarify this issue,” Ma said in response to reporters’ questions on the sidelines of a public event in Taipei.

The case is essentially litigating constitutional matters, Ma said, adding that he has to fight not only for his own rights, but also to ensure that the mandate of the nation’s presidents will not be restricted.

“I will definitely appeal the ruling,” Ma said while surrounded by scores of supporters, some of whom waved Republic of China flags and held cardboard posters that read: “Oppose political persecution.”

Asked whether the guilty verdict was associated with Control Yuan member Chen Shih-meng’s (陳師孟) pledge in January to focus on Ma and judges who appear lenient toward the pan-blue camp, Ma said that the public would have its own judgement on the matter.

He also struck back at the court’s ruling, which sentenced him to four months in prison for leaking information regarding an ongoing investigation and said that he failed to set a good example for society as the democratically elected head of state.

“Failing to set a good example would be if I chose to go home and take a nap while facing this case,” Ma said.

Yesterday’s ruling was the second verdict in a case filed by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office and can still be appealed. Ma was acquitted in the first ruling in August last year.

The case was derived from an incident in September 2013, when Ma gave then-premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and then-Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) wiretapped conversations gathered as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged lobbying by Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

Ma claimed his actions were an attempt to assuage the scandal’s potential effects on the relationship between the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan, as it also implicated then-legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and then-minister of justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫), prosecutors said.

In his defense, Ma cited Article 44 of the Constitution, which affords the president the right to provide consultations on a dispute involving two or more branches of the government.

Ma was last year acquitted in two rulings on a case filed by Ker, one in March and the other in October.

Yesterday’s ruling “has raised concerns about whether Chen’s remarks have caused a chilling effect in the judicial community,” Ma’s office spokeswoman Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) said, adding that Ma did what any responsible president would have done to prevent a potential constitutional crisis.

Expressing the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) regret over the verdict, Culture and Communications Committee director-general Lee Ming-hsien (李明賢) said in a statement that the ruling has misinterpreted the law and humiliated a former president.

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