Ma faces array of lawsuits as immunity ends

President Ma Ying-jeou speaks at a loacl designing awards ceremony in Taipei.
President Ma Ying-jeou speaks at a loacl designing awards ceremony in Taipei.PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI • Dozens of lawsuits brought against former Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou reopened yesterday as his presidential immunity lapsed when the island swore in its new leader.

Mr Ma left the presidential office on Friday as Ms Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took the reins as the island's first female leader after winning a landslide victory in January.

Mr Ma came to power in 2008 partly due to his "Mr Clean" image, favoured by a public fed up with the scandals of former DPP leader Chen Shui-bian, who was jailed for corruption.

However, Mr Ma now faces his own court battles as political rivals hurl suits at him on a range of allegations, including leaking political secrets and failing to declare assets.

His departure from office means he now faces 24 cases, according to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office.

"The office has been actively taking inventory of cases relating to president Ma that were suspended due to immunity to criminal prosecution," prosecutors said in an earlier statement. "The investigations will restart according to law after the president steps down."

Local media reported on Thursday that the High Court had ordered a rehearing on a request brought by a DPP lawmaker that Mr Ma be prevented from leaving the country due to the cases he faces. The request had previously been denied at the district level.

Seemingly undeterred, a relaxed Mr Ma was pictured on a morning jog and doing push-ups in his old neighbourhood in Taipei yesterday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'Ma faces array of lawsuits as immunity ends'. Print Edition | Subscribe