Fri, Oct 27, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Accounts reveal scale of KMT's asset theft

By Lin Chia 林洽

In the early days of authoritarian rule, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) seized a substantial amount of real estate in Taiwan. As this portion of the party's stolen assets is difficult to conceal, the public believes that the KMT's holdings largely consist of real estate.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has specified the location of KMT properties to force the party to return these assets. Since KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office last year, he has been actively selling off the party's real estate, like a small-time thief fencing stolen goods.

However, focusing on the KMT's real estate is a trap for the uninitiated. KMT statistics reveal that real estate only accounts for one-tenth of the party's total assets, and this is now disappearing rapidly.

To clarify the extent of the assets that the KMT has stolen from the Taiwanese people, we have to look at total party revenues and expenditures.

First, membership fees: This type of revenue cannot even cover the cost of stationery and propaganda materials, not to mention adding to the party's assets.

Second, donations: In the past, donating to the KMT was the standard method for gaining special economic privileges or offsetting overdue taxes. Donations were therefore just another way for party members to dip their hands into the national treasury.

Third, there are enterprises and properties that were owned by the Japanese government during the colonial period.

Fourth, there are party-run companies that were granted monopolies by the KMT government and enjoyed monopoly profits, just as if the party had set up a series of "government monopoly bureaus."

Fifth, special privileges meant that party-run enterprises undertook government construction and service contracts, thus generating huge profits.

Sixth, party-run enterprises also took commissions by brokering public procurement projects, increasing government procurement costs and minimizing profit on government sales.

Finally, the government earmarked budget items to subsidize KMT-run enterprises or institutions.

Breaking down the KMT's revenue base reveals that all of the party's assets belong to the Taiwanese people.

It is even easier to calculate the party's expenditures. Party expenditures over the past 50-odd years have averaged between NT$7 billion (US$210 million) and NT$8 billion each year. That is, over the past five decades, the KMT has spent a total of NT$400 billion to NT$500 billion. And this does not even include campaign expenditures.

In other words, if the KMT ever possessed any so-called "legitimate" assets, they would have all been spent by now.

The KMT now claims that it has only NT$20 billion worth of assets left. The truth of the matter, however, is that regardless of how much those party assets are worth, they are all stolen assets and should be immediately returned to the people. No matter how the KMT tries to launder its money or defends itself, this is an undeniable fact that no sophistry in the world can conceal.

Most of the KMT's assets originate with profits and interest gains made from the "reinvestment" of loot taken during the Martial Law era. The mere existence of the party's assets is in fact a substantial extension of the Martial Law period.

It is also the biggest impediment to Taiwan's democratization, and the core of the issue of historical justice. Once this issue is solved, there is hope for Taiwan's political and economic situation. It could even be said that the legacy of the DPP's eight years in power will stand and fall with the ability to resolve this issue.

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