Ma should explain actions on Wang, Stephen Yates says

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - Page 3

There may be a “higher purpose” in President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) handling of allegations of influence peddling that have been leveled against Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), and Ma would benefit from sharing it with the public if there is, a former White House official said in Taipei yesterday.

“There seems to be something deeper going,” said Stephen Yates, who served as deputy national security adviser to former US vice president Dick Cheney, referring to Ma’s condemnation on Sunday of Wang’s alleged involvement in lobbying on behalf of a fellow lawmaker in an embezzlement case.

Ma has also urged Wang to return home as soon as possible from Malaysia to explain his actions, a move Yates described as “unusual.”

Wang left Taipei on Friday for Malaysia for his second daughter’s wedding.

“I think the challenge for President Ma is to explain to the country what the higher purpose behind these tactical moves [is],” Yates said.

If Ma has a higher purpose that is supported by the public, he may be able to earn more backing at a time when his administration has been beleaguered by low approval ratings, Yates added.

Yates said he has a “strong guess” that Ma’s motivation is linked to plans for handling the legislative review of the service trade agreement signed with China in June.

Many analysts think that Wang is not keen to move the review process forward as quickly as the Ma administration would like.

Yates said that checks and balances are the hardest part of the democratic process.

Asked whether he believes Ma will be able to handle the case successfully, Yates said Ma “has no choice but to face it.”

“I think Taiwan has been through a lot,” he said. “And it will get through this too.”

Taiwan has made it through decades of democratization and now “the citizenry is relatively stable; economic development is relatively stable,” he said.

A well-known expert on Asia security, Yates is now chief executive officer of DC Asia Advisory, a Washington-based consultancy.

Wang has been accused of interfering in a legal case when he allegedly used his influence in June to stop a prosecutor from appealing a not-guilty verdict in favor of Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

While admitting to calling then-minister of justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) in June, Wang has denied any wrongdoing.

Lawmakers are barred by law from from lobbying for people involved in an ongoing legal case.