Mon, May 26, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Asset cases promise to test Ma’s will

By Yang Shyh-Ren 楊士仁

Now that Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has become president, his ideal of being a leader to all Taiwanese is being put to the test. How the Broadcasting Corp of China’s (BCC) court case involving the plots of land on Minzu Rd in Banciao, and the change of zoning status for the area previously owned by the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Institute on Policy Research and Development, are resolved will be a crucial test for Ma.

Both cases involve the KMT’s assets. If the KMT uses the presidency to intervene in either case, it would signify a return to the era where the party and state were not separate. Ma has reportedly asked KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) to get rid of all the party assets. If Ma pulls this off, he could just prove to be the president of all Taiwanese.

The first two failed trials of the civil suit launched by the Ministry of Transportation’s Department of Posts and Telecommunication against the BCC, demanding the return of the land in Banciao, were overturned in a third trial at the Supreme Court and submitted for re-trial at the High Court.

The case is complicated. The land in Banciao was government-owned, but not government utilized. The National Property Act (國有財產法) says such properties should be directly managed by the National Property Administration or by a suitable authority or local government body entrusted by the Ministry of Finance.

However, the BCC does not qualify as either a local government body or a suitable authority. Therefore, its change of registration to become the managing authority of the land on June 5, 1981, was illegal.

Second, the Land Registration Regulation (土地登記規則) states that the registration of land should be conducted by the obligee and the obligor. The registration application, however, listed the obligee as the BCC, and its legal agent was former KMT secretary-general Ma Shu-li (馬樹禮). The obligor was the Republic of China (ROC) and the managing authority was the BCC, again with Ma Shu-li as its legal agent.

Therefore, the registration naming BCC the managing authority of the land was illegal. Ma Shu-li did not have the authority to act as the agent of the ROC alongside the BCC and transfer the ownership of the land to the BCC.

In the High Court re-trial, the judges adopted the majority of the Supreme Court’s interpretation and ruled on Feb. 5 that the BCC must cancel the transfer of managing authority and all claims of ownership so that the land will revert to the government. The BCC has decided to appeal.

The Department of Posts and Telecommunications instigated the suit and finally got a break with the third trial. However, now that the KMT is back in power, things could change. If the new government forces the Department of Posts and Telecommunications to retract the suit, then the efforts invested in retrieving KMT party assets will have been wasted.

In his early days as KMT chairman, Ma Ying-jeou’s sale of the land belonging to the KMT-affiliated Institute of Policy Research and Development near Muzha to the Yuan Lih Construction Corp caused an uproar. The zoning status of the area remained unchanged for three years, until April 15 when the Taipei Urban Planning Commission agreed to change the zoning status from “administrative” to “residential.”

The Taipei City Government’s delay in the zoning proposal was intially due to the fact that it needed approval from the Ministry of the Interior and this would have been denied under the previous government.

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