Tue, Jul 31, 2012 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Corruption and KMT’s dirty wealth

The corruption case involving former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) is pulling others into its vortex, with some legislators alleging that Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) has also been on the take, covering his tracks courtesy of a go-between.

The truth behind these allegations awaits further investigation, although it does seem that the Special Investigation Division (SID) handling the case is still sitting on its hands. Wu himself has spoken on the issue on several occasions, sometimes giving conflicting accounts, a fact that has naturally aroused suspicion. Even certain individuals within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) are calling on him to clarify the situation.

As the saying goes, the truth will out in the end, and any claims by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to be presiding over a squeaky clean government are now looking more than a little dubious.

Nevertheless, senior KMT officials, including Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), have all come out in support of Ma and his second-in-command, saying they have “100 percent faith” in him and that the vilification and “death by a thousand cuts” being visited upon Wu are unfair. It is a bit too much like “birds of a feather” if you ask us. Here is another metaphor that this rallying around of people within the party brings to mind: “thick as thieves.”

Interestingly enough, one member of the KMT Central Standing Committee has said: “If people are asking, ‘who is still corrupt in the KMT?’ then there is hope. If those in the KMT are saying, ‘no, there is no corruption in the KMT,’ then we really are in trouble.”

Unfortunately, it does seem that the latter opinion, that “there is no corruption in the KMT,” appears to have advocacy not just within the KMT, but among the wider public, too, and that is the crux of the KMT’s problem.

In the Lin corruption case, evidence appears to show that he had a group of accomplices — that he was not acting alone, but the fact that senior members of the party have chosen to declare their trust in Wu is characteristic of a self-interested syndicate like the KMT. If it did not deal with things this way, the whole cabal would have disbanded years ago.

What do we mean when we say the KMT is a syndicate? Simply put, it is a shrewdly built business empire consisting of ill-gotten party assets, state-owned enterprises, pro-blue corporations and the ability to influence the judiciary. This syndicate rolls out the necessary funds and influence during elections — especially presidential elections — and when the party is elected back into government, the abuse of power continues apace, as Lin’s alleged selling of political influence for money shows.

What is really scary is that, even when it lost in elections, as it did in 2000 and then again in 2004, and was forced into opposition, the foundations of this syndicate remained intact. This is because the KMT sits on a mountain of party assets — the biggest in the world — big enough to keep the whole organization cohesive and well-oiled until it regained power. From then on out, it was business as usual, as if it had never been out of power.

According to Ministry of the Interior figures on the finances declared by political parties, in the period 2006 to last year, the KMT’s party coffers swelled by NT$10.8 billion (US$358.8 million), courtesy of contributions from businesses in which the party had invested. It does seem that the party has access to a unlimited amount of cash to do as it pleases, be it for daily running costs or laying on election campaigns. That notwithstanding, based on the KMT Central Standing Committee’s financial declaration for Ma’s re-election bid, it would appear that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) spent more on her campaign than Ma did and also received more in political donations. Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? If it is, it is not funny. However, it does speak of the vast machine that is the KMT, which is able to mobilize immeasurable swathes of behind-the-scenes support during campaigns — presidential elections in particular — including wall-to-wall advertisements and an army of campaigners, enough to make the opponent’s campaign pale in comparison.

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