Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday he would seek justice through the administrative courts and ask the Council of Grand Justices for a new interpretation on its ruling on the president’s right to determine national secrets after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) declassified documents relating to the use of his “state affairs fund.”
The Presidential Office declined to comment yesterday on Chen’s decision, but said that it was confident justice was on its side.
Court proceedings have been suspended since October after the Chen administration said that documents pertaining to six diplomatic missions were classified material under the protection of the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法) and therefore prosecutors and the court should not have access to them.
The court then asked the Presidential Office to declassify the documents so that the trial could continue.
Instead of declassifying the documents, however, Ma’s administration gave the court access to the documents.
Chen’s office has called Ma’s decision to “revoke” the earlier classification “illegal” and “unconstitutional.”
Taipei prosecutors indicted Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), in November 2006 on corruption and forgery charges in connection with his alleged mishandling of the fund.
Chen could not be charged at the time because of presidential immunity.
Saying that he did not embezzle from the government or otherwise profit illegally, Chen yesterday argued that he should not be convicted for the same reason that Ma was acquitted in his trial for embezzlement of his “special allowance” during his stint as Taipei mayor.
Chen said Ma was acquitted on the grounds that he spent more of the fund than he received.
It would only make sense to acquit him because he spent more of the “state affairs” fund than he obtained and sometimes he even filled the shortfall with his own money, he said.
“I did not pocket any of the funds nor did I wire it overseas,” he said. “All of the funds were used for public purposes and the money I spent was more than what I received.”
Chen said he suspected Ma had sent more than NT$15 million (US$500,000) abroad to his two daughters during Ma’s eight years as Taipei mayor.
“No wonder some have questioned whether the NT$15 million came from his ‘special allowance’ fund,” he said.
Defining the president’s “state affairs fund” as the “most special” special allowance fund, Chen said that records showed that former presidents claimed half of the fund with receipts and the other half with claim forms, but former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) broke that tradition, claiming more of the fund with claim forms.
Chen also said that the president has another “secret national security fund,” code-named Fengtien (奉天), at his disposal.
The secret fund amounts to NT$3 billion plus interest, Chen said, but it is not listed in the government budget, nor does it require legislative review or supervision by the Ministry of Audit.
“We never questioned the president’s discretion,” he said. “We totally respected and trusted former president Lee’s judgment and diplomatic efforts.”
Meanwhile, the Supreme Prosecutor Office’s Special Investigation Panel said yesterday that a receipt is definitely required as long as an expense was incurred for public affairs purposes.
“For the state affairs fund case, we have agreed that a receipt, no matter what kind of format it takes, is required whenever government funds are spent,” said Chen Yun-nan (陳雲南), spokesman for the panel.
“Ma’s case has nothing to do with Chen Shui-bian’s,” Chen Yun-nan told a press conference in response to Chen Shui-bian’s comments.