The Ministry of the Interior said yesterday that any attempt to ask for donations for the Sunflower movement against the cross-strait service trade agreement would constitute a violation of the Political Donation Act (政治獻金法), which is punishable by a fine of twice the amount of money raised and the confiscation of all donations.
The ministry made the remarks one day after a Facebook page, titled “Repairing 318 Legislative Yuan,” was set up by netizens supportive of the Sunflower movement to solicit money for repairs to the damage inflicted to the legislative chamber during the protesters’ 24-day occupation.
The netizens planned to use the money to cover the rental fees for audio equipment installed inside and outside the legislature during the protest, which is scheduled to come to an end today.
Legislative Yuan staffers say the occupation has caused damage to chairs, doors, carpets, microphones, the broadcasting system and some valuable paintings.
“As the student movement is categorized as a political activity, any money donated to or raised for it will be deemed a political donation,” the ministry said, adding that only political parties, political associations and election candidates are allowed to accept political donations.
The ministry said student organizations that have claimed that their fund-raising attempts are for charitable purposes would have the legitimacy of their actions determined by the Control Yuan or the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The ministry’s statement drew immediate criticism from netizens, some citing the more than NT$100 million (US$3.3 million) raised in 2006 by civic groups supporting a movement against then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and accused the ministry of double standards.
“I wonder if anyone who solicited money for the movement at that time was ever fined,” a netizen wrote.
Separately yesterday, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said that as many “kind-hearted people” have expressed an intention to pay for the repairs, not a penny of taxpayers’ money would be used to cover the costs of the restoration work on the legislature.
Tsai Wei-min (蔡衛民) of the Legislative Yuan’s General Affairs Department on Tuesday turned down the offer by netizens to help to pay for the repairs.
Meanwhile, Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said yesterday that the Cabinet plans to seek NT$3 million compensation from the protesters who broke into and briefly took over the Executive Yuan compound on March 23.
Sun said the protesters destroyed four timber doors, 13 windows, a refrigerator, a photocopy machine, a fax machine, a cabinet, and several tables and chairs, which combined were worth NT$3 million.
“All the parties involved in the brief occupation have given their statements to police and have been summoned by prosecutors for questioning. We will file a civil lawsuit against them once prosecutors conclude their investigation,” Sun said.
Sun said that the Executive Yuan “is not currently considering” dropping the case against the protesters and “has not thought about” the possibility of accepting donations from businesses rather than asking the protesters to pay for the damage.
Additional reporting by CNA