Well...Ma Ying-jeou's hysterical attack on Legislator Wang Jin-pyng, with its condemnation of Wang as guilty of crimes he has not even been charged with, has blown up into an enormous political scandal with huge potential to damage the KMT and Ma Ying-jeou, all of it completely unnecessary, had Ma simply said nothing. It's also made it obvious that from the beginning this whole case was about getting Wang. Tseng's resignation was just the collateral damage.
Wang had been in Malaysia attending his daughter's wedding when the news "broke" that the SID had tapes of him allegedly telling a DPP legislator that he had arranged for the prosecutors to forego an appeal in a not guilty verdict. The reason I use "broke" is because it looks like Wang took off and then as soon as he was out the door, the SID convened a press conference with the sensational claims about Wang and Ker and Justice Minister Tseng. What a coincidence, eh?
Well, Wang has returned. FocusTaiwan reports that he is going to fight tooth and nail....
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng on Tuesday denied having engaged in influence peddling, saying he "would absolutely not accept illegal accusations."Wang (here) also criticized the prosecutors for holding the press conference when he was out of the country (at his daughter's wedding, something sure to attract people's sympathy), saying that the Legislature must be respected and it is unacceptable for a small number of unscrupulous prosecutors to behave in such a manner.
Wang also accused the Special Investigation Division of violating the law and the Constitution by eavesdropping on the speaker of the Legislature and releasing a transcript of the wiretapped conversations.
Flanked by supporters and fellow legislators at the airport, Wang delivered his first response to allegations that he lobbied the minister and the prosecutor in June on behalf of a fellow lawmaker who was the defendant in a breach-of-trust trial.
Welcome to a certain Asian city-state? Despite the tidal wave of criticism from all quarters (more on that in a moment) the Presidential Office doubled down on its hacks on Wang Jin-pyng....
A day after President Ma Ying-jeou was accused of shaming Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng in an influence peddling case, a presidential aide said Wednesday that it was Wang who showed no respect to the judicial system.Note that the President has openly said that Wang is guilty. No weasel words there, no ambiguity. No presidential behavior either. It's total vindictiveness and hate, trial by media, and of course, it is widely perceived as using the prosecutors to settle political scores. Remind you of anything?
"The moment Wang used his influence to call (Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker) Ker Chien-ming, (Justice Minister) Tseng Yung-fu and Chen Shou-huang (head of the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office), the justice system was shamed," said Lo Chih-chiang, deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office.
"It is not President Ma who has not shown Wang basic respect. It is Wang himself who has not accorded basic respect to the judicial system," Lo said.
Yeah, Ma's behavior in the Chen Shui-bian case. And also, all the other cases against DPP politicians under the Ma Administration. In fact, as a friend pointed out, in attacking Wang this way, Ma risks making the conviction of Chen Shui-bian look even more obviously political than it already does.
Recall that Ma has many times cited a certain Asian city-state as a political and social model. You know, that Asian city-state where critics say that the one-party government deploys the judicial system against its opponents. Note that I am not saying that. I am just repeating what the critics say. I would never criticize that totally great Asian city-state.
Note also Wang's legislative seat is a KMT party seat, an at-large seat and he was not elected by any district. Hence, his presence and position in the legislature are under the total control of the KMT. Ma as Chairman of the KMT has referred the matter to the disciplinary committee. If its internal disciplinary committee finds against him, he will be stripped of position and power (including, someone reminded me, his position as head of the Taiwan Democracy Foundation). Wang's case goes before the KMT disciplinary committee tomorrow, Wednesday.
Honorary KMT Chairman for Life Lien Chan, the twice-failed Presidential candidate and KMT heavyweight supreme, criticized Ma for conducting the campaign against Wang. "It is inappropriate to criticize Wang Jin-pyng that way." Recall that in 2005 when Wang ran against Ma, Lien backed Wang. The crisis -- stoked entirely by Ma's relentless assault on Wang and referral of the case to the KMT's disciplinary committee -- is falling out along the old political lines of the right-wingers like Ma who are diehard pro-ROC ideologues, and the more flexible, inclusive, Taiwanese-centric KMT associated with Lee Teng-hui. UDN, the rabidly pro-KMT paper, came out for Ma.
Gosh, do you think all the media yammerheads who wrote in 2008 what a pragmatic politician Ma is are going to write retractions? Nope.
Meanwhile the DPP is having a field day because Ma has apparently shot his entire foot off. A former DPP deputy justice minister filed criminal charges against Ma and the SID heads. Wang has extensive connections with DPP legislators and is well liked in and out of the legislature. The DPP has rallied around him. If Wang is forced out, whatever the reason for Ma's animus, it will have negative repercussions for Taiwanese support for the KMT....
It will be fascinating to see what happens tomorrow. Longtime observers were saying that the Speaker position will likely go to Hung Hsiu-chu, who is the deputy speaker and who apparently is far more hawkish than the conciliatory, consensus building Wang, who is a master politician.
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