President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has donated more than NT$75 million (US$2.56 million) to charities over the years, exceeding the salary he has earned since he came to office in May 2008, Premier Sean Chen said yesterday.
Chen released the figure while answering questions from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) during a question-and-answer session in the legislature.
On Tuesday, Chen, in response to a question from DPP Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智), said Ma has told him that he donates more than half of his salary to charities each year.
However, the Presidential Office issued a press release on Thursday evening that said Ma has never said that his donations were more than half of his annual salary.
Asked by Lin about the discrepancy between his assertion and the Presidential Office statement, Chen yesterday said he did not remember when the discussion he had with Ma on the issue happened.
Chen said he was sure of two points Ma had made during their conversation. They were: Ma has made a habit of regular donations, which has nothing to do with a campaign pledge he made in 2008; and Ma makes donations every year, now amounting to over NT$75 million, which is more than half the salary he has earned during his term of office.
During the presidential campaign in 2008, Ma pledged to donate half of his wages if he fails to materialize the “6-3-3” goals — GDP growth of 6 percent, an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent and a per capita income of US$30,000.
DPP lawmakers recently renewed calls that Ma should honor this campaign pledge.
On Thursday, the DPP filed a complaint with the Special Investigation Division against Ma, demanding that prosecutors investigate the origins of Ma’s property under the rules on property from unknown origins in the Anti-Corruption Act (貪汙治罪條例).
The origins of Ma’s assets were open to questioning, because it was illogical that Ma donated more than half of his salary and was still able to save more than his salary, as disclosed in property disclosures in Control Yuan reports, DPP lawyer Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) said yesterday.
Lin said she suspected the donations Ma has made were from the state affairs fund, a discretionary fund allocated for the president, and demanded that Chen order an investigation into the case by the Agency Against Corruption (AAC) at the Ministry of Justice.
Chen denied her request, saying the AAC could only establish a case when there were allegations suggesting that an official was involved in corruption.
DPP Legislator Tsai Hung-liang (蔡煌瑯) said he also suspected Ma’s donations may come from the state affairs fund, rather than from his salary income.
The amount of the state affairs fund allocated to Ma in 2008, in the budget statement written under the former DPP administration, stood at NT$30 million.
The Ma administration kept the amount unchanged in 2009, but raised it to NT$38million in 2010 and to NT$40million last year. The budget for next year is NT$40 million.