Mon, Apr 02, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Guilty verdict or not, Ma plans run for presidency


Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is to appear in court for a hearing tomorrow, said yesterday he would run for president next year even if the court were to render a guilty verdict.

"If the first trial finds me guilty, I will still run" said Ma, who is set to register his candidacy for the KMT presidential primary soon.

"They would not get what they want by trying to use litigation to beset me, or even knock me down," he said.

Ma is suspected of embezzling NT$11 million (US$332,425) and was indicted on Feb. 13 on corruption charges.

Prosecutors alleged that between December 1998 and last July, Ma wired half of his monthly special allowance -- NT$170,000 -- directly into a personal account. They also claimed that Ma has NT$11,176,227 in bank accounts belonging to him and his wife.

Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office spokesman Chang Wen-cheng (張文政) said that while Ma's monthly salary as mayor was about NT$150,000, Ma had deposited NT$200,000 each month into his wife Chou Mei-chin's (周美青) bank account.

This, Chang said, led prosecutors to suspect he was embezzling public funds.

Prosecutors added that Ma had included the money in his mandatory annual declaration of assets, but that he had failed to explain what legal basis he had for keeping public funds in a personal bank account.

Ma also said yesterday that he would invite Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to be his running mate in next year's presidential election.

Asked by the press if he was worried that Wang, who recently expressed his intention to run for the presidency himself, could announce his candidacy as an independent, Ma said that Wang "would probably not do this."

Registration for the KMT primary begins tomorrow.

In related news, former KMT acting chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) told the press yesterday at a separate setting that he had been pressuring Ma and Wang to cooperate.

Whether the two will run on the same ticket remains contingent on whether either is willing to be the vice presidential candidate, Wu said.

Additional reporting by Flora Wang

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