A proposed statute that would divest the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of its stolen assets was put to committee review in the legislature yesterday, although Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers failed to get the proposal sent directly to a second reading.
The DPP's motion to move the bill to the second reading only garnered 98 affirmative votes out of 210 legislators present in two ballots yesterday morning.
The People First Party (PFP) caucus sided with the KMT and voted against the motion, sending the proposal back for review by four committees: Home and Nations, Finance, Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes.
Committee review does not necessarily guarantee passage of the bill, as it may still be returned to the Procedure Committee if anyone who was in favor of the review changes his or her mind before next Friday's legislative meeting.
During yesterday's session, the pan-green caucuses held up posters and banners to urge the KMT to "return its stolen assets to the people" and urge the PFP to support a direct second reading of the bill.
Independent Legislator Li Ao (李敖) held up an elegiac couplet to declare his support for the DPP's motion. He voted against the motion in the first round of balloting, however, because he pressed the wrong button.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (
He said that putting the bill to committee review was simply a "delaying tactic" by the KMT to give it more time to sell its assets before the committees finish their reviews.
"This bill has been the `most blocked' bill in the Procedure Committee. It has been blocked [from the legislative agenda] 102 times," he said. "The KMT and PFP's joint motion to move the bill to committee review was Ma's trick to fool the Taiwanese people."
If KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), director of the KMT's policy coordination department, said yesterday's results showed that the KMT was willing to face its assets problem.
KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (
"The KMT is truly against corruption," Tsai said, adding that the party would form a "sunshine bill team" to promote the proposed party law, lobby law and amendments to the Political Donation Law (
PFP caucus whip Yang Cheng Chin-ling (
Ma reiterated his support for the proposed statute later yesterday.
Ma also reiterated Tsai's comment that the KMT would propose its own version of the political party law, which would include a chapter dealing with the party asset issue.
The chapter would not be targeted at any specific party, and would suggest that political parties could own assets, but not run private businesses, he said.
While acknowledging that some of the KMT's assets had been acquired inappropriately, Ma said that the party had returned assets totaling NT$2.1 billion (US$60 million) to the government.
"But if the government asks us to return those that have already been sold, I won't have the money to do it, and I can't ask the buyer to return the assets, because they acquired the assets through legal means," Ma said.
When asked if the KMT would stop trying to sell its assets before the sunshine bills are passed, Ma said that the party was going ahead with plans to sell the Central Investment Coop before 2008.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih
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