Fri, Feb 09, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Ma says he doesn't fear investigation

BRAVADO?The KMT chairman downplayed the continuing probe into his use of his mayoral allowance, but it later emerged that he had pleaded his case with prosecutors

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday put a brave face on the continuing investigation into his alleged misuse of his mayoral allowance, saying that he felt neither discouraged nor helpless.

He also denied widespread speculation that the outcome of the investigation would be announced today, while declining to confirm whether or not he had visited prosecutors on Wednesday morning to defend himself.

"The case is still under investigation and I should not make any comments before the investigations are complete," Ma, a former Taipei mayor, told reporters yesterday at KMT headquarters.

KMT Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) later confirmed that Ma had, on his own initiative, visited the Black Gold Investigation Center at 7:30am on Wednesday. Su said Ma had explained once again to prosecutors that he had acted within the regulations when he wired half of his mayoral allowance to his personal bank account.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers last August accused Ma of embezzling half of his special monthly mayoral allowance -- NT$170,000 -- by depositing the funds into his personal bank account.

At the end of last year, Ma was twice questioned by Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen (侯寬仁) but denied that he had violated any rules.

Ma said yesterday that the investigation was still underway and would not be concluded by today. He added that he was not sure whether the case would be concluded before the Lunar New Year holidays.

"I am not discouraged or helpless. It's not that serious. I have been sticking to my schedule and doing the things I need to do," Ma said.

Taipei City Government Secretariat Director Lee Sush-der(李述德) said prosecutors questioned former Taipei mayoral office staffer Yu Wen (余文) -- who has admitted to submitting fraudulent receipts used in the accounting for Ma's special allowance fund -- on Monday and Wednesday. Lee added that prosecutors had also questioned staff at the secretariat and Ma's bodyguards several times recently.

Meanwhile, the KMT legislative caucus yesterday called on prosecutors to be thorough in their investigations.

"This case is not a simple matter because Ma had no criminal intent. There would be no justice if Ma were indicted," KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) told a press conference.

KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) demanded that prosecutors apply the same standards to their investigations into four high-ranking DPP members.

Wu was referring to Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun, who KMT lawmakers have accused of misusing their special allowances.

Wu added that Ma would definitely step down from his position as chairman if indicted.

In related news, People First Party (PFP) Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) yesterday suggested that Ma should run in the 2008 presidential election on behalf of the KMT-PFP alliance, instead of the KMT, if he is indicted.

Wu said the KMT appreciated the PFP's gesture, but that the KMT hadn't yet decided what it would do if Ma were indicted.

DPP Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), however, condemned the KMT for interfering with the judicial system.

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