Tue, Feb 13, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Ma starts 2008 bid after indictment

`MR. CLEAN' GETS DIRTYMa Ying-jeou was indicted on corruption charges and resigned as KMT chairman. But he had a surprise for those who thought his career was over

By Rich Chang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

“At this moment, when democracy has been mortally wounded, when social

justice does not prevail, I hereby solemnly declare that I will turn anger

into strength without hesitation, and enter the 2008 presidential race,” he

said, vowing to prove his innocence.

Amid cheers of “Go, go, Ma Ying-jeou!” and “Win the election, Ma Ying-jeou!”

from supporters, Ma said he respected the judicial system, but refused to

accept the charges.

Ma promised to transform a society in which “justice and fairness have been

hijacked by politics.”

“I will not be defeated. I repeat, I will not be defeated,” he said.

SUPPORT

Meanwhile, former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) issued a statement extending support for Ma, adding that the indictment could not hide the corruption of the Democratic Progressive Party government.

“We believe that the people believe in Chairman Ma's integrity, and we all

support him in fighting for it,” Lien said.

Ma's lawyer, Song Yao-ming (宋耀明) challenged the indictment, saying that

Ma was innocent of using the special allowance fund for private gain and had

had no intention of embezzling funds.

“A prosecutor's job is not to retrieve money for the government, but to find

out whether or not he has the intention to violate the regulations,” Song

said.

The KMT also defended Ma, releasing a report on its investigation into the

special allowance case just 30 minutes after the indictment.

The report said that Ma's wiring of half of his special allowance into a

personal account was in accordance with government regulations, and the move should not be seen as embezzlement.

KMT member Ma Yi-kung (馬以工), who was on the committee that helped to

compile the report, said Ma had donated more than NT$69 million (US$2.09

million) to public welfare groups over the past eight years.

This included two foundations the former mayor established with NT$47

million left over from his mayoral election subsidies and more than NT$16

million from his personal accounts that was donated to 11 groups.

Ma Ying-jeou also donated NT$11.5 million in November to charities, Ma

Yi-kung said.

Ma Ying-jeou offered his resignation in accordance with the KMT's “black

gold exclusion clause,” which states that membership in the party must be

suspended if a member is indicted.

The clause was tightened under Ma Ying-jeou's chairmanship to impose tougher restrictions on party members and candidates. The party's previous

regulations stated that a member could only be suspended if convicted.

Upset by the indictment, several KMT members gathered in front of the

party's headquarters to protest, condemning the DPP government for

“persecuting” Ma Ying-jeou through the judicial system.

The demonstrators insisted that Ma Ying-jeou should not resign.

“Chairman Ma and the KMT should get tough about the matter. Why should the KMT obey the law when others don't?” said one middle-aged woman, as she sat outside the headquarters holding a sign and sobbing.

Another KMT member who identified herself only by her surname, Hsiao (蕭),

said that it was unnecessary for Ma to resign.

“Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) didn't resign over the `state affairs' fund [case], so why should Chairman Ma resign?” she said.

Meanwhile, KMT Vice Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) was selected acting

chairman for now.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a KMT heavyweight who has hinted at his interest in running in the 2008 election, made only circumspect

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