Ma urged to explain handling of influence-peddling case
CNATAIPEI--There may be a “higher purpose” in President Ma Ying jeou's handling of suspected influence peddling on the part of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, and Ma would benefit from sharing it with the public if there is, a former White House official said Monday.
September 10, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
“There seems to be something deeper going,” said Stephen Yates, who served as deputy national security adviser to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney when he was in office.
Speaking during a Taipei visit, Yates was referring to Ma's strongly worded condemnation of Wang's involvement in lobbying on behalf of a fellow lawmaker who was the defendant in a legal case.
Ma has also urged Wang to return to Taiwan as soon as possible from Malaysia to explain his role, a move Yates described as “unusual.” Wang has been in Malaysia for the past few days to attend his 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 told CNA.
If Ma has a higher purpose that is favored by the public, he may be able to earn more support at a time when his administration has been beleaguered by a low approval rate, he added.
Yates said he has a “strong guess” that Ma's motivation has something to do with plans for handling the service trade agreement with China in the Legislature.
The agreement to open up the service trade industry across the Taiwan Strait was signed in June but has yet to be reviewed by the Legislature. Many think that Wang is not keen to move the process forward as quickly as the Ma administration would like despite the ruling KMT's majority in the Legislative Yuan.
Commenting on the current case that has caused tensions between the Presidential Office, the Legislature and the judiciary, Yates noted that checks and balances are the hardest part of the democratic process.
Asked whether he believes the president 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 also 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 used his influence in June to stop a prosecutor from appealing against a not-guilty verdict in favor of Ker Chien-ming, the chief whip of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's Legislative caucus.
While admitting to calling Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu in June, Wang denied any wrongdoing, a position which Ma disputed outright in a statement issued Sunday.
According to a law governing the conduct of legislators, members of the Legislative Yuan are banned from lobbying for people involved in an ongoing legal case.