Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Chen graft claims spark probe, apology

By Chen Hui-ping and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A post is pictured on former Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson Hsu Chia-ching’s Facebook account yesterday in which she apologizes to former president Chen Shui-bian for her allegation that Chen accepted bribes.

Screen grab from Hsu Chia-ching’s Facebook account

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) yesterday apologized to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for her allegation that he took several billion New Taiwan dollars from construction magnates during his presidency.

On the heels of a press conference held by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday morning, the Special Investigation Division (SID) said in the afternoon that it has begun investigating Hsu’s allegation.

“I blurted out an unconfirmed story of a political donation [involving Chen], which I did not remember correctly because I was told the story long ago and I had no evidence. I therefore would like to make the most sincere apology to Chen for all the disturbance and damage I have caused, and I alone will shoulder all responsibility,” Hsu said on Facebook.

“I resigned as the DPP spokesperson [to] take responsibility for my action,” she added.

In a speech to members of the Taiwan Benevolent Association of Dallas, Texas, on Feb. 15, Hsu said she was told by a business leader that dozens of magnates from the construction sector each offered between NT$30 million and NT$70 million (US$950,400 and US$2.2 million), amounting to several billion NT dollars, to Chen at a gathering when he was in office, according to video footage.

Speculation has mounted over whether DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the party’s only presidential candidate, was behind Hsu’s accusation, because Hsu has been Tsai’s confidant since her presidential campaign in 2012.

Chen Shui-bian’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), said he suspected that Hsu aimed to force him to withdraw from a legislative primary.

Janice Chen (陳昭姿), the head of the former president’s civilian medical team, called on Tsai to apologize to Chen Shui-bian.

The Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that Robert Lee (李席舟), a former member of the Overseas Community Affairs Council and former chairman of the DPP’s southern US branch, uploaded the video on Feb. 24.

Lee is a prominent DPP figure in the southern US and he has accompanied almost all DPP politicians visiting the nation, the report said.

He has a series of online videos titled Robert Lee’s View, the newspaper reported.

Lee uploaded videos of the speeches Hsu delivered in the US — including the footage of Hsu’s controversial allegation — but he did not post those videos for any particular purpose, the newspaper said.

At the KMT news conference, KMT deputy caucus whip Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟) and other KMT legislators raised questions about the identities of the alleged contributors to Chen, the exact amounts of the purported offerings, the way the alleged money would have been distributed among DPP members and whether Tsai was aware of Hsu’s allegation.

They urged Hsu and Tsai to give a detailed explanation of the allegation, as the matter is legally and morally complicated.

Later yesterday, the SID said in a press release that it has collected information relating to Hsu’s allegation and built a case on it.

Commenting on the case, former DPP chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said that repercussions of Hsu’s allegation would definitely be borne by the DPP and Tsai because “I believe that the KMT would never let slip the opportunity [to attack the DPP and Tsai], neither would the media.”

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan

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