Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday denied having ever said that he regretted taking part in a press conference in which President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) condemned Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) for alleged influence peddling.
Jiang said in a statement that he has always supported Ma’s efforts to defend the independence of the judicial system and his position on not interfering in individual legal cases.
Jiang was responding to a report in the Chinese-language Apple Daily that claimed he regretted having appeared at the Sept. 8 press conference along with Ma and Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義). Neither Jiang nor Wu said anything at the conference.
Quoting unnamed sources, the Apple Daily said Jiang told a Control Yuan investigation team that he had been instructed to attend the press conference.
“If the clock could be wound back. I probably would have asked myself whether attending a press conference that calls for the resignation of the legislative Speaker might violate the constitutional division of powers,” Jiang was reported as saying.
In his press release, Jiang said the report and the claim that it was based on were “completely contrary to the truth.”
Jiang said he clearly told Control Yuan members that there was no question of him overstepping constitutional boundaries. Lobbying for individual legal cases is a crime in a democracy, Jiang said, adding that on this issue of right and wrong, he fully supported the decision of the president.
In the statement, the Executive Yuan also expressed “incomprehension and regret” that Jiang’s comments — given in a supposedly confidential process — had been leaked to and misrepresented in a newspaper.
The Control Yuan investigation was part of an impeachment investigation targeting State Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘), who briefed Ma in August on information that appeared to indicate that Wang lobbied the justice minister on behalf of an opposition lawmaker who was the defendant in a breach of trust case.
Huang has been indicted for leaking classified information and faces a second attempt by the Control Yuan to impeach him after a first attempt failed last month.
Acting on the information, Ma held the press conference to issue a strongly worded statement, calling Wang’s alleged interference in a legal case “the most serious infringement” of the independence of Taiwan’s judiciary.
Three days later, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) disciplinary committee voted to revoke Wang’s party membership
However, Wang then won a court injunction to keep his position as speaker pending the outcome of a lawsuit on the legitimacy of the KMT’s move.