Taiwan's premier survives no-confidence vote

TAIPEI - Taiwan's Premier Jiang Yi-huah on Tuesday survived a no-confidence vote launched by opposition lawmakers who accused the government of violating the constitution over attempts to expel the parliamentary speaker.

Forty five legislators voted in favour of the motion, well short of the 57 votes required to oust the premier, said speaker Wang Jin-pyng.

"I am glad about the outcome of the vote... Taiwan can't afford infighting in this grave economic climate at home and abroad. I hope we can now focus on boosting the economy," Jiang told reporters.

The vote called by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came amid mounting criticism on the government of President Ma Ying-jeou over a controversial investigation into influence-peddling claims against speaker Wang.

Ma's ruling Kuomintang party tried to expel Wang for allegedly meddling in a court case, based on information that was obtained by wiretapping the phone of DPP lawmaker Ker Chien-ming.

Wang was accused of influencing prosecutors not to appeal the acquittal of Ker in a breach of trust case last year, which he has denied.

Prosecutors have insisted the wiretapping was legal. But the DPP has demanded that Ma step down, comparing the controversy to the Watergate scandal in the United States which resulted in the resignation of then-president Richard Nixon in 1974.

Ma's popularity has also taken a severe hit in the wake of the controversy that has already seen two top officials resign, including his spokesman.