Thu, Jan 06, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Lee orders KMT to put divestiture process in gear

CLEANING THE COFFERS President Lee Teng-hui has backed Lien Chan's call to put NT$200 billion of the party's assets in trust, and he wants it done soon

By Lauren Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Speaking in his capacity as KMT chairman yesterday, President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) put his political weight behind Vice President Lien Chan's (3s戰) recent campaign proposal for party reform, by mapping out concrete measures to put the KMT's assets in a trust.

Lee's first action, made at the KMT's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday, was to order KMT Secretary-General Huang Kun-hui (黃昆輝) to establish a special task force to draft measures to put the plan into effect.

Lien's previous presidential campaign platforms mark the party's "third wave of reform'' and are crucial to consolidating Taiwan's democracy, Lee said.

Lee said Lien's platform consisted of six goals, including humanitarianism, efficiency, justice and clarity.

"In particular, his declarations on restricting parties from being involved in business investments have earned much applause from the public,'' Lee said.

"For the purpose of building up a fairer environment for political competition, I believe the party should avoid direct operation of enterprises, which might cast doubts about the potential of insider trading,'' Lee said.

Lee urged the KMT to divest itself of its assets and entrust them to professional managers as soon as possible -- which Lien suggested on Sunday.

Huang echoed Lee's remarks at the committee meeting and said he would follow the party's orders in forming a special group to work out how to hand over the KMT's assets.

At a campaign rally later in the day, Lee once again expressed his strong determination to entrust the party's property to professional managers.

"The KMT would prefer to be diligent about carrying out its promises rather than simply swaggering about,'' Lee said. "We [the KMT] are not kidding. I would like to plead with the media to write as many positive stories as it can.''

Opposition critics, however, said that both the KMT and Lien are playing a two-handed strategy.

"On the one hand, Lien can gain a positive pro-reform image, which is something he really lacks, by advocating the separation of politics and business,'' DPP legislator Tsai Huang-liang (1/22?瑯) said. "But on the other hand, even though the KMT plans to entrust its property to professional managers, [KMT officials] can still continue their ownership of assets originally taken from society.''

During the rally, Lee appealed to government representatives on hand to give more publicity to the KMT's achievements in order to help win more votes.

"There were two remarkable accomplishments you can use as examples while seeking voter support, including our successful crisis management of the 1997 Asian financial storm and the efficient handling of the 921 earthquake and its aftermath last year,'' Lee said.

In other developments, senior advisor to the president Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄) also attended yesterday's KMT's Central Standing Committee meeting -- and according to sources, Lee specifically asked all participants to applaud Wu's "return to the KMT family."

It is widely believed that Wu's presence was a sign that he has formally switched his support from independent presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) to Lien.

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