Sun, Sep 03, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Sloth and politics stop recovery of KMT assets

By Chen Yi-shen 陳儀深

On Aug. 23, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) issued a report on its party assets. The party described the report as a "complete and transparent" account which it hoped would meet with public approval.

However, a Cabinet task force on party assets said that the KMT had clearly undercalculated the value of its assets. For example, the current value of the 870 lots of land that the party possesses exceeds NT$6.4 billion (US$194.7 million), but the party claims it has only 612 lots of land valued at NT$1.6 billion.

Much of the property that the KMT has been criticized for obtaining through appropriations or donations has already been sold off, and the party claims that more than 90 percent of the rest has been returned to the government.

However, according to the National Property Administration, the KMT has only returned 1 percent.

NO AUTHORITY

The main reason for this discrepancy is that the government has not been able to exercise its authority; the KMT outnumbers the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the legislature, and it hasn't been possible to pass measures for managing party assets.

Excessive party assets not only hinder fair competition between political parties, they also slow Taiwan's pressing need for transitional justice.

Despite the transfer of executive power in 2000, the fact is that the KMT continues to control inappropriately obtained resources, and are still able to distort social concepts of right and wrong.

Their return to power is inevitable, sooner or later.

The KMT report fails to account for assets obtained from the Japanese when the latter left Taiwan, still believing it to be perfectly reasonable that it could take Japanese property in light of its heavy sacrifices in the war.

The KMT still does not realize, however, that in the eyes of many postwar Taiwanese, property developed by the Japanese colonial government is the property of Taiwan.

At the time, the KMT auctioned off a lot of Japanese property to wealthy merchants from China, which was one of the main causes of the widespread popular dissent that led to the 228 Incident.

Evidently, today's KMT cannot face history, just as the title of its report shows that it wants to leave that history behind.

How can the KMT hope to give a satisfactory explanation to the public when it has this mindset?

TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE

Of course, transitional justice does not mean that we should expect abusers and beneficiaries of the authoritarian era to step forward of their own volition and admit their guilt.

An investigation into party assets by the Control Yuan in 2001 and similar research by the National Property Administration should have made this unnecessary.

However, the DPP needs to examine why it hasn't made this a priority issue in the six years that it has been in office.

Just as former Control Yuan member Huang Huang-hsiung (黃煌雄) has said, efforts over the past six years to investigate party assets have had disappointing results, one reason being that more people are trying to grab headlines than those who are diligently and quietly going about this difficult work.

This scathing assessment, which is also directed at pro-localization groups, is worthy of the public's careful examination.

Chen Yi-shen is an associate research fellow at the Academia Sinica's Institute of Modern History.

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