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Sat, Jan 15, 2000 - Page 3 News List

`Blankets for votes' scandal unfolds in the lap of KMT

ALLEGATIONS OF MISUSE Lawmakers point to Taiwan's representative in Sweden as the culprit behind blankets donated as quake relief being given out only after signing an endorsement of Lien Chan


Accusations continued yesterday over a "blankets for votes" scandal, with lawmakers pointing fingers at Taiwan's representative to Sweden, James C.Y. Chu (祝基瀅), and accusing him of turning donations into KMT party assets.

The allegations began on Thursday when legislators said that the KMT had been handing out blankets donated to Taiwan by the Swedish government in exchange for signed endorsement cards last week at a campaign function in Tungshih (東勢) for presidential candidate and Vice President Lien Chan (連戰).

The blankets, along with sleeping bags and tents, had been part of earthquake relief goods donated by Sweden in October.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday confirmed that the goods were solicited by the Chinese Youth Peace Corps (CYPC) through Taiwan's trade mission in Sweden.

The role that Chu played in the transaction has raised a few eyebrows at the Legislative Yuan.

"Why is it that relief goods have ended up in the hands of the CYPC?" asked independent lawmaker Chen Chen-sheng (陳振盛).

"The residents of the disaster area have said that they had to sign Lien's endorsement card to get the blankets. It's obvious the party is using relief goods as campaign gifts," he said.

The CYPC is part of the KMT's Department of Youth Affairs headed by Lai Kuo-chou (賴國洲), President Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) son-in-law.

Chu once served as the KMT's deputy secretary-general and is known to have close ties with Lai.

The scandal has also brought to light the role of the foreign ministry is transporting the relief aid.

A group of legislators aligned with independent presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) have accused ex-foreign minister and KMT campaign manager Jason Hu (胡志強) of misappropriating the relief goods.

"The ministry is only responsible for delivering the goods to the earthquake relief center in Nantou. You would have to ask the relevant person on how the goods were distributed," reiterated the ministry's spokesman, Henry Chen (陳銘政), yesterday.

Hu strongly denied he turned over the relief goods to the KMT and said the blankets were specifically marked to be delivered to the CYPC. The Swedish representative has declined to comment on the incident.

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