The Liberty Times Editorial: Solving the assets issue with votes

Fri, Jul 24, 2015 - Page 8

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.

KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) claims to have had a difficult background and that she is the poorest candidate the party has ever nominated. No one is interested in these matters; the crucial point is that Hung has a responsibility to let the public know what she will do about the KMT’s assets. Voters have a right to know.

There has been a lot of talk about returning the assets to the public, but the party still has billions of New Taiwan dollars. It refuses to return the money and it continues to use its assets to guarantee that political competition remains unfair and imbalanced — which also applies to intra-party struggles — while Ma, the “son of the party-state” says: “I have not let down Taiwan during these eight years.”

Return the party’s assets to the public? That was an election pledge that went bust as soon as the KMT had cheated voters out of their ballots.

If the party refuses to return the assets to the public, then the master of the nation, the public, has to collect on the debt. Next year, voters must elect a president and a legislature that will collect on the debt for them.

The KMT assets issue is a cancer on the nation’s democracy. If it is not cut out, it will not be possible to settle historical scores, nor will it be possible to turn Taiwan into a full-fledged democracy.

Next year must be a significant step toward the normalization of democracy, and it must lay the foundation for fairness and justice. A return to 2008 cannot be tolerated. When the KMT returned to power, a lot was said about transitional justice, but little was done; a political party that never has understood the importance of apologizing was returned to power, and democracy and Taiwanese were let down.

Translated by Perry Svensson