Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday dismissed media speculation that the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) had pressured the KMT to identify who leaked the minutes of a secret meeting.
"I have not received any such information. I also have no comment," Ma said in Ilan when approached by reporters about the meeting between his running mate, Vincent Siew (
The Chinese-language Apple Daily, which published what it said were minutes from the meeting, reported yesterday that AIT was upset by the leak and urged the KMT to probe the incident.
The private meeting between Siew and Burghardt was not disclosed until Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Sandy Yen (
Burghardt arrived in Taipei on Dec. 8 for a four-day visit. During his stay, in addition to meeting President Chen Shui-bian (
Yen said Siew and Burghardt met for one hour on Dec. 8.
The minutes, which have not been confirmed as authentic by either AIT or the KMT, seemed to suggest the US favored the KMT.
The alleged minutes said Burghardt had asked Siew about rumors that Chen could resort to destabilizing tactics in order to ensure victory for his party in the upcoming elections.
The minutes said that Siew, in response, said the KMT was concerned the DPP might stage a disturbance ahead of the presidential election to create a situation that would justify declaring martial law.
Burghardt also inquired whether the KMT presidential campaign office maintained secret channels of communication with Chinese authorities, to which Siew replied no, the minutes said.
The minutes also said that Burghardt asked about the long-stalled arms budgets, including funds to purchase PAC-3 missiles.
Burghardt allegedly expressed concern that if the KMT wins the presidency and advisers to Ma are against arms procurement, this could hinder US arms sales to Taiwan.
Siew said he would ask Ma to pay particular attention to Burghardt's concerns.
The KMT caucus on Wednesday announced it would vote in favor of the purchase of US anti-missile technology, after using its legislative majority to block the purchase for two years. The about-face drew sharp criticism because of its timing.
Contacted by the Taipei Times on Saturday, AIT spokesman Thomas Hodges said he could not confirm the authenticity of the minutes because he had not read those published by the paper.
Hodges said his office might comment on the report today.
Siew confirmed the meeting with Burghardt on Saturday. In Taichung County yesterday, he said the KMT was investigating the leak of the minutes.
Siew said he could not reveal the contents of the meeting because he and Burghardt had agreed to keep them private. Siew said it was important to keep his promise to Burghardt.
Yen claimed that Siew told Burghardt that the DPP, in order to win the presidential election in March, was prepared to stage an attempted assassination or an incident that would exacerbate cross-strait tensions.
Siew would not confirm on Saturday whether he had told Burghardt that the DPP could stage an incident to manipulate voters, adding only that many people had expressed such concerns.
Yen also said Siew had told the AIT chairman that the KMT insisted on adopting two-step voting in the elections because it wanted to hinder the DPP's UN referendum.
In response to Yen's claims, the KMT accused the DPP of misusing national security resources to obtain intelligence about the meeting.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (
Yen issued another press release on Saturday, in which she said she had not obtained minutes from the meeting. Yen said her information came from "a member of the US Congress."
Asked for comment, KMT Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said the KMT had reason to believe that Yen had obtained the minutes illegally or fabricated the details.
Su accused the DPP of trying to discredit Siew by exploiting the leak.
KMT Legislator Su Chi (
In related news, Ma yesterday rebutted a statement by Chen on Saturday night that someone from the KMT had tried to persuade him to expose a scandal involving then independent presidential candidate James Soong (
Chen was referring to an allegation the KMT made in December 1999 that Soong's son, Soong Chen-yuan (宋鎮遠), bought NT$120 million (US$3.7 million) in securities when James Soong served as the party's secretary-general in 1992.
At the time, James Soong said the money was from an "elderly person" and that it had been given back several months before the scandal made the news.
Following the allegations, however, public support for James Soong plunged and he lost to Chen by approximately 300,000 votes.
"The president reveals different news every day, but no one knows whether he tells the truth," Ma said.
Former KMT legislator Yang Chi-hsiung (
Additional reporting by AP
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