Sun, Dec 21, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Time for KMT to resolve asset issue

With the issue of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) ill-gotten party assets having become the new center of attacks in the the DPP's election campaign, one cannot help but wonder what the KMT has been doing over the past several years regarding an issue that it knew perfectly well was bound to come up again.

The unfortunate answer is very little. In this regard, the KMT has no one to blame but itself for leaving itself vulnerable to attacks.

The immediate response of the party has been to criticize the DPP for bringing up the issue each time there is an election. But the DPP is able to do this precisely because it is a plain and indisputable fact that the issue remains far from being resolved -- that a good part of the assets of up to hundreds of billions of NT dollars, which went into the pockets of the party during the era of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son, when the party saw the national treasury as their own automatic-teller machine, remains in the hands of the KMT.

Moreover, would these attacks by the DPP or anyone else prompt such immediate reactions from the KMT if an election campaign weren't going on?

The last time that the KMT took these attacks seriously was the last presidential election.

This time around the response of the KMT has been to return seven movie theaters and two other buildings to the government. Returning these assets is of course the right thing to do. But why do it only when your enemy begins to attack you?

If the KMT continues to cough up bits and pieces of these assets each time it comes under attack, both the general public and the pan-green camp will continue to believe there are loads of assets that the KMT is still hiding.

The KMT must realize that this is a problem that can never be wished away.

It is true that, with so many assets in the KMT's hands, it will take more than a few days or weeks to solve the problem. But the KMT has had close to four years to take care of things.

As long as the problem still exists, no response the KMT can make will seem appropriate. It has tried to stay silent and not respond at all. That only made the party look more guilty than ever. This is not to mention the voter resentment that such behavior triggers. Whatever, explanations and reasons the KMT offers will sound to voters like sorry excuses.

The KMT must realize that these assets belong to the country and the people here. No one is trying to rob the KMT of anything.

Moreover, since the people are the rightful owners of these assets, they are the judge of whether the KMT has done enough. If the KMT wishes to survive as a political party and even someday be elected as the ruling party again, it must deal with this political issue.

To make the matter worse, a bill that would mandate the return of ill-gotten assets of political parties, and which would give the government a legal basis to investigate such matters, remains buried in the huge to-do pile at the Legislative Yuan, where the pan-blue camp holds a majority.

It goes without saying how that makes the KMT look.

These party assets are not assets at all. They are burdens to the KMT. Virtually no other political party in any democratic country has the kind of wealth that the KMT has.

It must make a clean break with the past, and return these ill-gotten assets, so as to start again with a clean slate.

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