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Mon, Jan 24, 2000 - Page 3 News List

New book says liquidating KMT assets is only bluster

DOUBT Putting the KMT's assets into trust, if actually carried out openly and thoroughly, is a chance to clean up politics, say the two editors of a new book

By Lauren Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Co-editors Andy Liang and Vicky Tien at the news conference yesterday in Taipei to announce the release of their book Liquidating the KMT.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Vice President and KMT presidential candidate Lien Chan's (連戰) pledge to place KMT assets into a trust presents an unprecedented opportunity to loosen the party's grip on money politics, said critics yesterday, although they were skeptical whether such a proposal would be carried out comprehensively.

At the launch of a new book titled Liquidating the KMT, the book's editors described the KMT's business empire as "the cancer on Taiwan's democratic development."

"Despite the KMT's move to place its assets in trust, the measure will merely prevent the cancer cells from spreading rather than wipe out the deadly disease," said Andy Liang (梁永煌), the editor-in-chief of Wealth Monthly magazine(財訊) and one of the editors of the book. Liang and Vicky Tien (田習如), also an editor at Wealth Monthly, co-edited the book.

"By means of an authoritarian regime, the KMT has developed its business empire from US$0.8 million dollars to US$10 billion in the past 50 years," Liang said.

Such mushrooming wealth, Liang said, makes the KMT "the richest political party in the world."

According to the book, the KMT's wealth mainly has come from the "shuffling of government assets into the party treasury" through five means.

These include the KMT's take-over of state-owned land from the Japanese occupation period, using the state budget to subsidize party-owned business, giving pubic procurement or contracting out infrastructure projects to party enterprises, using subsidiaries formed by KMT businesses to escape legislative scrutiny and the setting up of joint ventures between state- and KMT-owned companies.

The book estimated that there are approximately 43 firms in the KMT's business portfolio.

Critics and opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, claimed that these privileges have turned party-run businesses into a breeding ground of money politics.

"The KMT has abused its monopolization of policy making power to enrich itself," said New Party legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆).

"They have, in one hand, decision making power and on the other hand they have business interests. This is a direct conflict of interests," he said.

Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟), a former deputy mayor of Taipei who is now an economics professor at National Taiwan University and the co-author of another book on how the KMT's assets have distorted Taiwan's political climate, said that two principles must be followed when placing KMT assets in a trust.

"One is justice. The KMT has to be accountable for the source of its revenues. The other is fairness. The party should return illegal revenues to the public," Chen said.

With the presidential election less than two months away and Lien trailing in most of the polls, Huang Huan-hsiung (黃煌雄), a member of the Control Yuan, urged the public to use the election campaign to push the KMT to dissolve its business empire.

"The momentum generated from the presidential race is the best chance to force the KMT to unload its assets,'' Huang said.

Lai further proposed that a cross-party alliance be set up to monitor and evaluate the process.

Huang seconded this idea, saying that "the most important task now is to find the source of the KMT's assets."

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