TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former Legislative Speaker Liu Sung-pan died in the United States last month at the age of 84, more than a decade after having fled the country to avoid a prison sentence for breach of trust, reports said Wednesday.
Liu was one of the leading political figures of the 1990s, having served most of the decade as the head of the Legislative Yuan during a time of rapid democratization.
According to his relatives and prosecutors, he died on November 7, his ashes were cremated and brought to Taiwan on Tuesday, newspapers reported.
A leading figure in the farmers’ association world from Dajia in then-Taichung County, he was elected speaker of the Legislative Yuan in 1992. He was the first native Taiwanese speaker, and the first one to head a Legislature completely re-elected in Taiwan.
Liu lasted in this position until 1999, when he was replaced by his deputy, Wang Jin-pyng. His ouster reportedly played a part in his decision to break with the Kuomintang and to support independent James Soong in the 2000 presidential election. He later joined Soong’s People First Party.
Liu left the Legislative Yuan after a career of more than 30 years due to a bribery scandal. The Taiwan High Court sentenced him in 2004 to four years in prison and to a fine of NT$30 million (US$940,000), finding him guilty of having accepted a NT$150 million (US$4.7 million) bribe for brokering an illegal loan on behalf of the Kuangsan Group.
He failed to return from a visit to the United States and went to live in Los Angeles, reports said. Initial reports Wednesday said he might have moved to China, but the Taichung District Prosecutors Office said it has received a message from the Taiwanese office in Los Angeles that a death certificate had been drawn up by the local Department of Public Health.