Saturday, September 07, 2013

Tseng Steps Down, Wang Jin-pyng in the crosshairs

Wedding photos can break out anywhere.

Whoa, the Taipei Times reports on the recent developments.
Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) yesterday accused Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) and Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office Head Prosecutor Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) of illegally lobbying for a lawsuit involving Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

Tseng announced his resignation later yesterday.

A spokesman for the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID), Yang Jung-tsung (楊榮宗), told a press conference earlier yesterday that after Ker on June 18 was found not guilty of embezzling funds from Formosa Telecom, he asked Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), to lobby Tseng and Chen to use their influence to stop a prosecutor from appealing the case with the Supreme Court.
The piece goes on to say that Tseng and Chen are unlikely to face criminal charges because they didn't get any tangible rewards like kickbacks. You mean it's not a criminal act to use the power of your office in this way? Say what?

Meanwhile the papers here are having a field day, interpreting events here as a power play within the KMT, a charge made by Ker, who said the whole thing is being orchestrated by President Ma Ying-jeou. Wang Jin-pyng, the KMT Speaker of the Legislature, a Taiwanese politician from Kaohsiung, and longtime Ma rival, was in Malaysia but was ordered to return to Taiwan by Ma (who is KMT Chairman).

The Taipei Times reported on the allegations that the whole thing was a power play.
Wang does not have a position within the KMT, but as legislative speaker and a key figure in the party’s localization factions, he has had great influence over the party.

Wang also represents the KMT’s old power bloc, along with party heavyweights including former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), and has had problematic relations with Ma in the wake of fierce competition over the KMT chairmanship in 2005.
Wang's position is interesting. In the 2005 KMT chairmanship election Ma beat Wang on his strength among the party rank and file, while party elites all supported Wang. The "localization factions" remark points to Wang's position as the unofficial leader of the "southern legislators", a representative term for KMT legislators from south and central Taiwan (Wang is a southerner) who are often at odds with the party's mainlander elites in the bitter struggle over internal power and patronage network resource flows. The KMT has always attempting to suppress the growth of regional and national networks of local leaders, part of its divide-and-rule approach to controlling Taiwan.

Given Wang's longstanding rivalry with Ma, and his position as an informal power broker, he makes a nifty target. No wonder the local papers are alive with speculation that Wang's downfall is the real goal of this investigation. Local reporters were saying that the SID sent around text messages to all the reporters -- not once, but twice -- to invite them to attend the press conference, saying there would be big news. The reporters all said that was rare. At the press conference the SID played the tapes for the reporters. The reader can draw their own conclusions about whether the SID was playing politics.

Another issue deserves highlighting. There is the possibility that someone here may face criminal charges. Yet, as is so often the case in major criminal and political investigations, key evidence is being systematically leaked -- this case, the recordings of the conversations between Ker, Wang, and Tseng -- have been made public. This is trial by media, a feature of other political cases, such as those swirling about Chen Shui-bian. Think anyone in the SID will be reprimanded for this? Ha.
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Anonymous said...

very good post. Sooner or later, 'China Factor' in this power struggle will emerge. Attorney General Huang Shi-Ming visited China several years ago and was alleged to receive very warm welcome in a sexual-oriented entertainment outlet. Right after he came back to Taiwan, ex-President Li DH was persecuted by Special Invest. Division.

Tommy said...

With the news of vote-swapping in the KMT CSC, a move that would strengthen the hand of southern members, I wonder if there isn't a much deeper rift here than is being let on. If the southerners are jockeying to enhance their position in 2016, and Ma and his supporters are willing to target Wang (which the SIP's stance makes me think is possible), I wonder what will happen over the next two years. Factor in the existence of no obvious successor to Ma in the presidency. Could we be witnessing the early stages of what may become open combat?