KMT headquarters sold for NT$2.3bn

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Mar 23, 2006 - Page 1

Evergreen chairman Chang Jung-fa (張榮發) confirmed yesterday that his company will buy the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) headquarters for NT$2.3 billion (US$96 million).

Evergreen Group is one of the nation's biggest shipping companies. It owns EVA Airways Corp and Evergreen Marine Corp.

KMT Secretary-General Chan Chuen-po (詹春柏) was unwilling to confirm the identity of the buyer yesterday when talking to reporters at the party headquarters.

"The headquarters were sold to a prominent local enterprise and will be used for cultural and educational purposes," he said.

Chan was happy to answer other questions, however.

When asked about the buyer's political affiliation, Chan said that the KMT was concerned only with the buyer's reputation, the sale price and the use to which the building would be put.

"Evergreen means `green,' which is a color you can see everywhere ... The chairman of the Evergreen Group is a successful entrepreneur. We don't pay attention to his political affiliation," Chan said.

Chang is known to be a supporter of the pan-green camp.

On whether the building would be painted green after the Evergreen Group takes over, Chan said: "The buyer has its preference. It's their choice."

Once the deal is finalized, the KMT is expected to move its headquarters to a smaller building on Bade Road.

The 12-story building was built in 1995 and boasts an exhibition room on the first floor, offices on the second through 10th floors, the chairman and vice chairmen's offices on the 11th floor and meeting and banquet rooms on the 12th floor.

The building's NT$40 million annual maintenance fee has, however, become a heavy burden for the cash-strapped KMT.

The luxurious building is also not consistent with the clean, modest image that KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is trying to create for the party.

Given these financial and symbolic concerns, the KMT decided to sell the building and move to a new location.

The decision was made despite opposition from many older party officials who argued that the party should not sell its "spiritual fort."

The remaining details of the deal will be resolved once Ma returns from the US at the end of the month.

Democratic Progressive Party spokesman Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said yesterday that the money the KMT earned from the sale was ill-gotten.

Tsai urged the buyer to think twice before signing the contract.

Additional reporting by Jewel Huang