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August 22, 2017

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'Absurd': Ex-President Ma's spokeswoman has trashed claims he ordered a 2007 shooting

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A spokeswoman for Ma Ying-jeou has slammed allegations that the former president masterminded a 2007 shooting attack on a lawmaker's office, branding them "absurd."

Weng Bing-yao (翁炳堯), who was convicted of abetting the gunman, made the stunning claim to prosecutors on Thursday regarding the attack on the office of former Legislator Alex Tsai, a member of Ma's KMT.

Along with Ma, Weng said, the shootup was also planned by Central Pictures Corp. (CPC) Chairman Gou Tai-chiang (郭台強) and his wife Lo Yu-chen (羅玉珍) as well as CPC Vice Chairwoman Chuang Wan-jun (莊婉均).

Weng said he had turned himself in for perjury, claiming he had lied in 2008 when he told prosecutors that Gou had not directed the attack on Tsai. He got an over five-year term and was paroled in 2012.

His statement drew a sharp rebuke from the former president's office, with spokeswoman Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) saying later Thursday that the allegations were ridiculous.

There was no evidence that Ma had any involvement in the attack, Hsu said.

Although Taiwan is a democratic country with freedom of speech, she said, that right is not unlimited and shouldn't be abused to make baseless allegations.

She noted that the shooting occurred on July 28, 2007, which was between Ma's first and second terms as KMT chairman. As such, she argued, Ma would not have been involved in any possible interparty conflict related to Weng's alleged reasons for the attack.

That argument appears to ignore the expansive, long-running nature of the disagreement.

The CPC was founded as a state-owned company. In 2005, the KMT sold its CPC shares, along with its Broadcasting Corporation of China and China Television Co. shares, to a holding company of Want Want China Times after media company ownership by a political party or the military was outlawed. Tsai was appointed chairman of the company after the sale.

The holding company later refused to take CPC and demanded that KMT-run Central Investment Holding Co. buy back the CPC shares. After ensuring that Gou intended to acquire the company, Central Investment agreed to repurchase the shares, which it sold to Gou in 2006.

Tsai served as a middleman between Gou and Central Investment during this process, but he and Gou reportedly had a falling out in 2007.

Gou replaced Tsai as chairman but Tsai contented that the move was illegal as the Executive Yuan had suspended the registration of CPC at the time.

Tsai resigned from his post soon after the attack.

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