EDITORIAL: KMT’s piggy bank is not for sharing

Thu, Nov 10, 2011 - Page 8

Politicians never cease to amaze with their brazenness.

The latest example comes from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who, apparently taken aback by the enthusiastic response of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters to the DPP’s “three little pigs” donation campaign, took a swipe at the opposition party on Sunday, saying: “We store our wealth among the people and create opportunities for people to become more affluent, rather than send out piggy banks to raise money from the people.”

If only Ma could see the irony in his statement.

Perhaps Ma has not noticed, but fundraising for electoral campaign purposes is a common practice in democratic countries. As long as all funds are solicited in accordance with the law, there is no wrongdoing.

And if Ma believes a political party should not raise money from the public, why has his own re--election campaign office launched a TV campaign calling on the public to make small donations to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)?

Surely Ma could not have been serious when he declared: “We store our wealth among the people.” The KMT is one of the richest political parties in the world. Last year alone, it had an income of NT$3.5 billion (US$116.1 million), NT$2.9 billion of which came from stock dividends.

To suggest that the KMT’s wealth is shared with or belongs to Taiwanese is anything but convincing, particularly as the party struggles to defend the legitimacy of its assets, many of which were taken over from the Japanese colonial government when the KMT seized control of Taiwan after World War II.

Ma might say that his administration takes pride in sharing the wealth, but recent incidents have proven otherwise.

Last month, Ma announced the Executive Yuan’s proposal to raise retired farmers’ monthly subsidy from NT$6,000 to NT$ 6,316. Does he really believe that a mere NT$316 per month translates as sharing “wealth” with the people, especially when some KMT legislators have suggested raising the monthly subsidy to NT$10,000?

Let’s not forget how much of the taxpayers’ money the government so “generously” spent on the musical Dreamers (夢想家), which was staged as part of the Ma administration’s Double Ten National Day celebrations last month.

That project cost more than NT$215 million. Meanwhile, a government program that provides nutritional supplements to children from low-income families has an annual budget of about NT$9 million.

Then there was the plan by the Council of Agriculture to end a milk subsidy program for children, which is part of the aforementioned nutritional supplement policy. It is only thanks to the clamoring voices of the opposition last week that the council did a U-turn and agreed not to do away with the milk handouts.

It certainly is a funny way to “store our wealth among the people.”

These examples clearly illustrate how tightfisted the government is when it comes to providing financial help to those in need.

Ma might be able to talk the talk, but when is he going to prove to the public that he can walk the walk?