Former Taiwan party leader to leave NPP amid corruption allegations

Hsu Yung-ming was freed on bail, while 3 incumbent lawmakers from other parties were ordered detained

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Hsu Yung-ming (center) leaving court Tuesday Aug. 4 

Hsu Yung-ming (center) leaving court Tuesday Aug. 4  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After being freed on bail in a massive investigation into bribery, ex-legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) announced Wednesday (Aug. 5) he was resigning from the New Power Party (NPP) he once led as chairman.

The political scientist was released after posting bail of NT$800,000 (US$27,000) Tuesday (Aug. 4), but three incumbent lawmakers, Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) of the Kuomintang (KMT), and Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were ordered detained.

The alleged bribery case involving the struggle for control of the Sogo department stores in Taiwan has been described as the largest scandal to have hit the country’s Legislative Yuan so far. A former foreign minister and an independent lawmaker were also freed on bail, while the case led to the replacement of Su’s uncle as the president’s top aide, even though he was not personally involved.

Hsu told the NPP leadership Wednesday he was giving up his party membership in order to protect its internal unity and to have more time to prepare his own legal case, CNA reported. As a result, he would not appear at an NPP disciplinary committee hearing scheduled for later in the day where he had been invited to present his defense.

The former party leader had been accused of accepting NT$2 million, which a party official initially suggested had been destined to support the NPP’s finances and pay for staff salaries.

After Hsu left court, five leading party members showed up to offer him moral support, which earned them criticism from elected NPP officials, the Liberty Times reported.

Later Wednesday, two NPP members of the Taipei City Council, Lin Ying-meng (林穎孟) and Meredith Huang (黃郁芬), announced they were leaving the party too because it had abandoned its original ideals. They said they would seat as independents in the capital’s assembly, CNA reported.

The NPP was founded by prominent members of the 2014 Sunflower Movement and had relied on a clean image to distinguish itself from the traditional parties. Over the past year, it had been hit by divisions about its relations with President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) DPP.