Sun, Feb 21, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Sparks fly at forum on ‘ill-gotten assets’

INCENTIVES:Draft legislation has failed to include provisions absolving or rewarding bureaucrats who come forward with evidence of the transfer of assets, a professor said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Divisions over how to pursue transitional justice were on full display yesterday at a Legislative Yuan forum held to address how to dispose of the the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) “ill-gotten party assets.”

A panel of academics and legislators convened by New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) and Congress Watch Foundation chairman Yao Li-ming (姚立明) discussed the possibilities for investigating the KMT’s assets, and also the extent to which the government should seek to recover any assets which are found to have been illicitly acquired.

Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology institute of financial and economic law professor Lo Cheng-chung (羅承宗) said draft legislation proposed by several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators on Friday was poorly considered.

“There are a lot of ‘bugs’ in it because they have shown their hand too quickly,” he said, adding that the bill is just a copy of a 2002 proposal drafted by then-president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration.

While active cooperation with bureaucrats is crucial to track down documents related to the transfer of national assets to the KMT and satellite groups during the nation’s more than 40 years of one-party rule, draft legislation has failed to include provisions absolving or rewarding officials who come forward with evidence, he said.

The lack of such provisions, along with limited budgets, hamstrung investigation efforts after Chen promulgated the proposal through an executive order, with almost all suits aimed at recovering assets losing in court, he said, adding that any new legislation also needed to provide a legal foundation for invalidating sale contracts.

“Only 0.001 percent of ‘party assets’ were acquired ‘illegally,’” he said, because there was almost always some kind of sales contract related to a transfer of assets, most of which benefited the KMT through favorable terms.

Participating DPP and New Power Party (NPP) legislators agreed on the need for more time to consider possible legislation, while disagreeing over how and to what extent the government should to seek to recover assets.

“In my opinion, publishing assets and recovering them should be treated as separate issues,” DPP Legislator Wellington Koo (顧立雄) said. “There should not be any time limit on acquiring all the information necessary to implement transitional justice.”

However, there is no reasonable way to avoid harming the rights of third parties if the government seeks to recover properties which the party has already sold off, he said, adding that only the party’s current assets should be included in recovery efforts.

“The KMT and the organizations it controls should be required to prove if any of their assets were acquired using party fees, donations or electoral subsidies — all other assets should be consider ‘ill-gotten’ and returned,” he said.

However, NPP Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) — who heads the party’s transitional justice task force — said that legislation should allow for the recovery of assets from “third parties” who colluded with the KMT.

Another major point of discussion was whether investigations into the KMT’s assets should be conducted by the Legislative Yuan or a commission under the purview of the Executive Yuan.

While an Executive Yuan commission would be more efficient, a Legislative Yuan special committee would likely be viewed as fairer, as it would allow for the participation of KMT legislators, Lim said.

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