Ever since the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee was established, people have been waiting for the answers to certain questions. What are the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) inappropriately obtained party assets? How much are they worth? How much money did the KMT spend? How did the party spend it?
Some KMT members have accused former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) of carelessly spending party funds during his time as party chairman.
Lee has said that, far from being the chairman to have spent the most, he was actually the one who made the most money for the party. In fact, when he transferred the assets to his successor in 2000, the party had more than NT$80 billion (US$2.53 billion at current exchange rates) on hand.
New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), convener of the KMT’s party assets task force at the time, said the total value of the party’s assets might have exceeded NT$100 billion.
Over the course of the subsequent 16 years, the total value has reportedly declined to the current value of NT$16.6 billion. How was the party able to get through so much money in the intervening period? Where has all the money gone?
Perhaps the first transfer of political power in Taiwan 16 years ago can be regarded as a watershed. Put aside for a moment the KMT’s assets and focus instead on its income and expenses.
For its income, the campaign office of then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and then-vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) in 2004 said that, based on Securities and Futures Institute data, the KMT sold about NT$20 billion in property between April 2000 and 2004 while former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) was KMT chairman. Altogether, KMT-owned Central Investment Holding Co, Hua Hsia Investment Holding Co and Kuang-Hwa Investment Holding Co sold shares with a market value of NT$164.71 billion.
Then-deputy KMT secretary-general Chang Chang-pang (張昌邦) revealed that the net profit of all the deals was NT$58 billion.
Also, the KMT offloaded assets during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) chairmanship.
Ministry of Finance data showed that the party held 835 properties in 2008, a figure that has dropped significantly, to 144 last year. For example, it sold the National Development Institute for NT$4.3 billion; its national headquarters for NT$2.3 billion; dormitories for employees of the Taiwan provincial chapter for NT$1.325 billion; Broadcasting Corp of China, China Television Co and Central Motion Picture Corp for a combined total of NT$9 billion; Chunghua Open Hospital for NT$400 million; and Singfor Life for NT$560 million.
Moreover, Central Investment Holding Co submitted share dividends worth NT$14.6 billion to the KMT between 2005 and last year.
Along with a variety of government subsidies and political donations, the party has had income of more than NT$110 billion over the past 16 years.
By contrast, the KMT’s administrative expenses and personnel costs, including party employees’ retirement pensions and a preferential interest rate on their savings, cost less than NT$3 billion per year, or less than NT$48 billion in 16 years.
As for election campaigns, which are the biggest expense for political parties, the KMT was able to do quite well for itself. According to party reports submitted to the Central Election Commission, it only spent NT$300 million in the 2000 presidential campaign for Lien and NT$236 million in the 2012 campaign for Ma. In the 2014 nine-in-one elections, Control Yuan statistics showed that the party spent a mere NT$111 million on campaign affairs and donated less than NT$21 million to its nominees’ campaigns.
From the KMT’s reports to the Central Election Commission that could not and should not be falsified, the party’s spending in various elections was estimated at NT$3 billion in total over the past 16 years. If NT$1 billion is added to the figure for additional costs, the party spent a total of NT$52 billion since 2000.
In other words, even if the assets the party had are not included, the KMT made NT$110 billion and spent NT$52 billion during this period. Why is there only NT$16.6 billion now? Did someone sense the trend after the first power transfer and move the money stolen from the government to their own pockets?
Chang Kuo-tsai is a former deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of University Professors.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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