Thu, Mar 28, 2002 - Page 3 News List

KMT tries to link NSB scandal to its own `poverty'

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

With former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) alleged to have embezzled secret funds stashed by the National Security Bureau, some KMT politicians yesterday insinuated that Lee was also responsible for the "sharp decline" in the party's assets during his leadership.

The party also said that it currently has much less money than it had in the 1990s.

During a meeting of the KMT's Central Standing Committee, lawmaker and committee member Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) called for a thorough probe into the varying fortunes of the party's assets -- and into the management of KMT-run enterprises over the past decade.

"Members of the public always thought that the KMT was very wealthy, with NT$200 billion to NT$300 billion worth of assets. And people won't believe it if the party discloses that [after the 2000 presidential race] these assets now only amount to between NT$70 billion and NT$80 billion," Hung said.

Hung said that the party must face up to the matter frankly, as the complicated enterprises run by the party -- and the alleged scandals surrounding them -- are hampering the party's effort to get rid of the negative reputation of engaging in money politics.

Responding to Hung's proposal, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) agreed that the party's image was not twisted and defamed without reason, "but today's KMT is a party without any burden."

"There is nothing to be covered up. Everything can be laid open and exposed," Lien asserted.

Lien said the investigation into the party's assets is being carried out by a special panel set up under the party's Administration and Management Committee, and the panel has been in operation for some time.

Meanwhile, Lien said that soon after he succeeded Lee as KMT chairman, he ordered Chang Chang-pang (張昌邦), director-general of the Investment and Business Management Committee, to take stock of the party-run businesses' records before and after Chang took office, so as to show where his responsibility started and his predecessor's ended. The job is still under way and has not been completed yet, Lien said.

Chang's predecessor, Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英), used to be known as the KMT's treasurer and has maintained close relations with Lee.

A number of investment project terminations and party asset sales during Liu's term have allegedly involved scandalous actions.

Liu is the founder and president of the Taiwan Research Institute (TRI), a think tank set up under Lee's instruction.

When the PFP first revealed the NSB's secret funds in January, PFP lawmakers alleged that up to NT$500 million from the NSB funds were channeled to the TRI, a transfer that was allegedly also ordered by Lee.

The PFP says part of the money was later used to finance the operations of political groups affiliated with Lee, which included the TSU and the Taiwan Advocates.

Echoing Hung's proposal at yesterday's meeting, Chao Li-yun (趙麗雲), another member of the Central Standing Committee, said the KMT needs to investigate the matter to purge suspicions from the minds of many party members.

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