Tue, Oct 28, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lien says embezzlement case doesn't exist

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party Chairman Lien Chan, left, is greeted by People First Party Chairman James Soong upon Lien's arrival at the CKS International Airport yesterday from a trip to Europe and the US.

PHOTO: TONY YAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) expressed his support for People First Party (PFP) counterpart James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday, saying that the Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal case "no longer exists."

"From the KMT's perspective, the case is over," Lien said, noting that the judicial investigation into the case had been concluded and that the KMT had decided to drop all of its allegations against Soong.

Lien made the remarks at a press conference at CKS International Airport upon his return from a trip to Europe and the US yesterday morning.

Soong was at the press conference, as were KMT vice chairmen Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄) and a score of pan-blue legislators who had gone to the airport to welcome Lien home.

The Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal began in December 1999 when then KMT legislator Yang Chi-hsiung (楊吉雄) accused Soong of involvement in irregular money transactions involving hundreds of millions of NT dollars when he was the KMT's secretary-general in the early 1990s.

During the 2000 presidential election campaign the KMT used the case to attack and discredit Soong, who was running as an independent against Lien and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

This February, the KMT drop-ped all embezzlement allegations against Soong, saying that the allegations had "all been a result of misunderstanding."

At the time, political observers said the KMT was trying to clear Soong's name as a peace offering to the PFP leader to get him to agree to run as vice president on a joint ticket with Lien next year.

"I hope the whole fuss will just come to a halt given that the case no longer exists," Lien said at yesterday's press conference.

The scandal returned to the headlines last week, however, when former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was called in by Taipei prosecutors to answer questions about their new investigation into the case.

Soong said last Friday that he was willing to confront Lee over his accusations that Soong had embezzled KMT funds.

"The case had now become a political case," Soong said, accusing the DPP of reopening the case to attack him ahead of next year's election.

Lien also told the press conference that the "one China" policy he advocates refers to the Republic of China.

"Based on the principle that the `one China' is the Republic of China, it is the fundamental strategic weapon for cross-strait peace," he said.

He did not elaborate further, but he did accuse Chen of not respecting the Constitution.

Commenting on the demonstration staged last Saturday by the DPP to back calls for a referendum law and for the drafting of a new constitution, Lien, said the KMT had never been against the holding of referendums.

However, he said a referendum "ought to be designed so it could only be initiated by the people and not by the government."

"If the government can at any time initiate the holding of a referendum on any issues, then what's the point of a government," he said.

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