According to an announcement by the Ministry of the Interior, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) assets amount to more than NT$25.5 billion (US$811 million), but over the past nine years, income from the party’s investment business has added another NT$14.58 billion.
A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson questioned where all the party’s assets have gone if only NT$25.5 billion remain, because when KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) became convener of the KMT’s party asset task force in 2000, the party had NT$10 billion in liquid assets, NT$20 billion in fixed assets and NT$70 billion in business investments.
The spokesperson also said that although the KMT continues to talk about ridding itself of its ill-gotten assets, the assets still remain; rather than ridding itself of them, the party rather seems to have hidden them.
Is the KMT making preparations for a return to opposition?
In 1945, the KMT came to Taiwan on the orders of the Allied Forces to receive the Japanese surrender, after which it took over Japanese assets. In 1949, it fled permanently to Taiwan after losing the Chinese Civil War against the Chinese Communist Party.
The strange thing is that over several decades, the KMT used the assets and direct access to the national treasury to become the richest political party in the world. However, the assets belong to all Taiwanese. This point alone makes it clear that anyone who says “Taiwanese have let the KMT down” — as someone said at the KMT’s national congress on Sunday — has gotten things completely wrong.
The KMT is a big operation and the average party member does not enjoy any of the advantages of the party assets. It is only the party nobility who get to enjoy the advantages, and it is made up of particular groups of people. Anyone who is not a member of these groups and still gets some of the crumbs is lucky, but they can forget about sharing the advantages of the assets.
The party leadership controls the assets and that clearly gives it all the ammunition it needs to nominate candidates, run election campaigns, reward people for services rendered, bribe people or manage internal power struggles. When it comes to internal power struggles, anyone who is not a member of the leadership group is at a disadvantage.
Although Chu was made party chairman after the nine-in-one elections last year, the party charter, which says that if a KMT member is president, they shall also be chairman of the party, has not been changed, leaving President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) with a lot of influence in the party.
Chu might be party chairman, but how much does he really know about the assets? Can he use them as head of the organization? Probably not. He has been pushed around in connection to the nomination of the party’s presidential and legislative candidates, and the party logic seems to be that without money — that is, without access to the assets — people remain powerless.
If Chu cannot control the assets, then any talk about returning them to the public coffers is just an empty promise. If the party is in opposition after next year’s presidential and legislative elections, Ma will remain influential and continue to command both the party and its assets.
In addition, considering the Council of Grand Justices, the Control Yuan president, judicial personnel and officials who Ma has appointed or promoted prior to stepping down, it is not strange that he continues to talk big; whoever succeeds him will have to follow his lead. He seems to think that he does not have to care if public suffering is increasing, because a president has to look further ahead.