The Supreme Court on Tuesday handed down a final verdict on the Broadcasting Corp of China’s (BCC) eight plots of land in New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋), ruling that the BCC’s claim of ownership violated the National Property Act (國有財產法) and that the registration of the land should be returned to the Republic of China (ROC) as its rightful owner.
The ruling is significant in that it demonstrates the judicial system’s recognition that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which owned the BCC until 2005, had illegally possessed national property. The ruling also serves as a reminder of how President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has so far failed to live up to his pledge as KMT chairman regarding the party’s ill-gotten assets, taken over from the Japanese colonial government after the KMT fled China and took control of Taiwan after World War II.
When Ma first took the helm of the party in August 2005, he promised to clean up the KMT’s assets by 2008, stating that the KMT’s guiding principle was “to handle controversial assets through judicial means and disposing of legally obtained assets via selling, donation or putting them into trusts.”
However, that so-called “guiding principle” was skewed to begin with as, according to the KMT’s own logic, most of its assets were obtained legally; not to mention that what was considered “legal” under the KMT’s authoritarian regime at the time might not be legal under the standards of today’s democracy.
The public has nonetheless been lenient toward the KMT, choosing to ignore the question of how Ma’s so-called “legally obtained assets” came to be in the KMT’s hands in the first place. The public instead patiently waited to see whether Ma would honor his pledge to make a clean break with the past on the ill-gotten assets issue.
However, the nation has been let down. Nine years have passed, yet not only has Ma failed to make good on these pledges, but the party under his leadership has actually moved to accelerate the liquidation of its assets, particularly in his early days as KMT chairman.
The acceleration of the dispossession of the KMT assets in recent years no doubt also makes it harder for the government to repossess them.
The public’s disgust was further aroused when the Ministry of the Interior’s latest political party asset report in June suggested that the KMT registered total assets of NT$26.8 billion (US$897 million), which earned the party NT$981.52 million in interest last year, 63 percent of the party’s NT$1.549 billion in total revenue for the year.
The unfair playing field for the nation’s political parties is evident, as the report showed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), on the other hand, had a revenue of NT$440 million last year, while the Taiwan Solidarity Union had a revenue of NT$73 million and the People First Party had a revenue of NT$39 million. In other words, the KMT, through its ill-gotten assets, not only seized the property of Taiwanese, but also used it as a foundation to unfairly dominate its political competition.
When Ma first assumed the KMT chairmanship nine years ago, he also promised to facilitate the passage of the Political Party Act (政黨法). However, since Ma was elected to the Presidential Office in 2008, there has been little movement on the proposed act, nor progress on the drafted act on the disposition of assets improperly obtained by political parties (政黨不當取得財產處理條例).