Tue, Jan 18, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Interior Ministry bill takes aim at KMT's empire

REFORM The draft of the Political Party Law is a follow-up to Lien Chan's vow to entrust KMT assets, but critics are dismissive of the bill

By Oliver Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The draft version of a proposed law governing political parties announced by the Interior Ministry yesterday intends to stop political parties from playing an active role in Taiwan's economy.

The legislation, which has been named the Political Party Law, would forbid parties from investing in or operating commercial businesses, and would require parties to entrust all their existing businesses or assets within six months of the law's enactment.

Some observers were quick to criticize the proposed law, however, saying that simply demanding the KMT entrust its huge assets would have little effect on the party's commercial empire, since the wealth would still ultimately belong to the party.

"It is absolutely meaningless for the KMT to entrust its assets," said Wu Tung-yeh (吳東野), a political analyst at National Chengchi University. "The money is still its money, at its disposal.

"It is easy to write a political party law, but it is really difficult to deal with the KMT's busi-nesses, because they are everywhere. How can real democracy emerge if one of the parties is so rich and has so many business interests?" Wu said.

The KMT is the only party that runs businesses in Taiwan. The value of its assets is estimated at around NT$200 billion, according to officials at the KMT's business management committee.

The bill is a response to a promise earlier this month by Vice President and KMT presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰) to entrust KMT assets. Just one day after Lien made his vow, Minister of Interior Huang Chu-wen (黃主文) announced that his ministry would get to work on drawing up a new law to govern the behavior of political parties.

The bill also calls for transparency in parties' finances. It stipulates that parties have to keep accounting books and submit an annual financial statement to the Control Yuan, the government watchdog agency.

Modeled after a German political party law, the bill also states that political parties must be democratic in both their organization and operations. The highest party leaders have to be elected democratically and will serve four-year terms, with two terms being the maximum that anyone can serve in a post.

"The democratic principle is good in helping to develop an overall democracy in the country by doing away with unfair competition within a party," Wu said. "The KMT will have to revise its chapters.

"But the bill goes too far in regulating how long a term should be and how long a person can be a party leader," he said. "Those details should be left to the parties themselves."

The bill was sent to the Cabinet for approval yesterday, and it is expected that the Cabinet will forward the bill to the legislature for review before the end of this month.

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