Taiwan Legislature to check phone calls by top prosecutor

Conversations with president might also come to light: Reports

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A new Legislative Yuan taskforce under discussion Wednesday will be allowed to check on the contents of phone conversations by Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming, maybe including those with President Ma Ying-jeou, reports said.
Huang has been listed as a defendant for allegedly leaking information about an investigation into influence peddling by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng on behalf of top opposition lawmaker Ker Chien-ming. Huang paid visits to Ma at his official presidential residence and had several phone conversations with him over the following days.
Despite initial differences of opinion between the ruling Kuomintang and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party about what the new taskforce would be allowed to do, the legislators reached conclusions to the effect that it would be allowed to look at Huang’s phone records and documents pertaining to his visits to the official presidential residence on August 31 and September 1, reports said.
The top prosecutor visited President Ma Ying-jeou at least twice to tell him about the allegations against Wang, thus exposing himself to allegations he violated the law by revealing confidential information about an investigation.
If needed, the new taskforce could request telecommunications companies to provide relevant records and transcripts.
Official instances, including the Supreme Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Division (SID), would have to offer information about wiretaps targeting Ker, reports said.
The bugging of a Legislative Yuan switchboard was used by the SID as the basis for its allegations of illegal lobbying against Ker, who was accused of having asked Wang to help him out and persuade prosecutors not to file an appeal against his not-guilty verdict in a case of breach of trust and embezzlement.
The Legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee proposal said the new group could investigate the Judicial Yuan, the Ministry of Justice, the National Police Administration and their related organizations, while more could be added later.
A proposal by Democratic Progressive Party legislator Yu Mei-nu to include Chunghwa Telecom and the Legislative Yuan itself as targets for investigation by the new taskforce was rejected by the ruling Kuomintang.
A total of 15 lawmakers had seen their phones being tapped, Chinese-language Next Magazine reported Wednesday. KMT lawmaker Hsieh Kuo-liang said he had never been notified about the alleged wiretaps, which had been in force for two years, according to the magazine. He called on the MOJ to explain whether the media allegations were true.
Another KMT legislator, Chang Chia-chun, said that no matter the nature of the conversations overheard, illegal wiretaps remained illegal and should not be allowed. She questioned whether there were only 13 lawmakers targeted.
Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay said elements of the magazine story were not accurate. The taps dated back to before the passage of a new communications privacy protection act in 2008 and most had not resulted in any tape recordings, she said.
On Tuesday, a delegation from the MOJ Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee visited the ministry’s Investigation Bureau (MJIB)’s electronic surveillance center in order to learn more about wiretapping.
In related news, the Taipei District Court would hold its first hearing in Wang’s case against the KMT on December 4, reports said. The courts already granted him an injunction which allowed him to stay on as KMT member and as legislative speaker, but his court case against the party’s September 11 revocation of his membership was still due to start up.
Ma and Wang have recently shown signs of reconciliation, with the speaker being invited to address the KMT’s 19th Congress in Taichung on November 10. Wang also cast his vote with the KMT to defeat a DPP motion of no confidence in the Cabinet of Premier Jiang Yi-huah.