Thu, Feb 01, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Women’s League votes against signing contract

‘CEDING TERRITORY’:The government notified the league that it would renew a probe into its alleged KMT links, which Joanna Lei said could be ‘extremely fierce’

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

National Women’s League chairwoman Joanna Lei, right, yesterday talks to reporters in Taipei before a meeting of the league.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Member representatives of the National Women’s League yesterday voted against signing an administrative contract with the government that would have led to its voluntary dissolution and the donation of most of its assets in exchange for an end to a government probe into its alleged link to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

The result was revealed by league staff member Yang Meng-ju (楊夢茹) at about 1pm, three hours after the representatives began a closely watched meeting on whether to sign the contract amid a rift within the league.

Thirty-one representatives voted against signing the contract with the Ministry of the Interior and the Cabinet’s Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, while 28 voted in favor and one abstained, Yang said.

Prior to the meeting, members from the league’s “hawkish” and “pacifist” factions — headed by former league chairwoman Cecilia Koo (辜嚴倬雲) and incumbent chairwoman Joanna Lei (雷倩) respectively — made last-ditch attempts to sway members’ opinions.

League member Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛), a former KMT lawmaker who spoke in support of Koo, said prior to the meeting that members should unite under the banner of justice and perseverance, instead of surrendering without a fight.

“What era are we in today? Why are we still ceding territory, paying indemnities and being enslaved? It is imperative to refuse to sign an unjust administrative contract,” Pan said, urging other representatives to “make the best choice at the darkest hour.”

Lei reminded league members of the potential repercussions of not signing the contract, including the possibility of the ministry dissolving the league’s Standing Committee and taking over the organization.

Yesterday was the deadline set by a memorandum of understanding signed by Lei, the ministry and the committee on Dec. 29 last year to sign the contract, which would have seen the league donate 90 percent of its total assets, or about NT$34.3 billion (US$1.18 billion), to the state’s coffers.

The contract also required the league to apply for its dissolution as a political group within four months, while the remaining 10 percent of its assets and employees would be transferred to the four foundations established with the league’s funds, including the Social Welfare Foundation.

In addition, the four foundations had to re-elect their boards of directors as soon as possible, with one-third of the seats to be appointed by the government.

In exchange, the government would drop its investigation into the league’s alleged links with the KMT and its use of the Military Benefit Tax — a tariff levied on the US dollar value of all imported goods from 1955 to 1989 — that provided most of the funding for the league’s charity work.

The league was founded in 1950 by former president Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) wife, Soong Mayling (宋美齡), and led by her for decades.

According to the assets committee’s estimation, the league received NT$24.03 billion — or NT$52.6 billion after factoring in inflation — from the tax between 1955 and 1989.

Following yesterday’s meeting, Lei said she had received a notice from the government of a renewed probe, but urged league employees to stay and defend the league until the last minute.

Lei said the next attack from the government could be extremely fierce, adding that another round of negotiations was unlikely, as the ministry was now convinced that any outcomes of any negotiations could be easily overthrown by political mobilization.

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