Thu, Nov 18, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Greens' approach legal and democratic, Cabinet says

By Joy Su and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Cabinet yesterday supported the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) fundraising approach, saying the party was employing a practise that is legal and commonly seen in democratic societies.

"The DPP does not have much in assets, and as such government officials holding party membership have a responsibility to raise funds on the party's behalf," Cabinet spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a media conference after yesterday's closed-door Cabinet meeting.

Chen said that the DPP's fundraising tactics fell within the legal boundaries of the Political Donation Law (政治獻金法) and that fundraising was a common practice in the US and other democratic nations. He said that the DPP was effectively asking for people to support the party's democratic ideals.

According to Chen, the DPP had established an independent bank account for political contributions and issued receipts to contributors.

"Fundraising for a political party is common practice. The question is whether or not the fundraising conforms to legal procedures," Chen said, producing a copy of a letter the DPP had sent to government officials detailing the regulations on accepting and soliciting political contributions.

He said that government officials could participate in the fundraising if they wanted to, but stressed that it was not mandatory.

"If you're happy to do it, then you do it, if not, you don't," Chen said.

"Under the Political Donation Law, Premier Yu Shyi-kun cannot solicit political contributions for himself, nor has he ever done so. However, as DPP members who serve simultaneously as the premier or as a Cabinet member, of course there is a responsibility to help raise funds," Chen said.

Chen said that raising NT$2.5 million would not be a problem for Yu, as he had many enthusiastic supporters who have helped him out with campaign donations in the past.

Chen said that he is himself expected to raise NT$500,000.

DPP Information and Culture Department director Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said that the pan-blue camp's accusations reflect the KMT's abuses, adding that no evidence has been produced to support the pan-blues' allegations.

Cheng said the contributions to the DPP's campaign that came from party members who serve as governmental officials had been made by DPP supporters or from the party members' own pockets, adding that it was impossible for state-run enterprises to donate money to the DPP directly, as the KMT had claimed.

"Every state-run business has it own account books. We suggest that the opposition parties take a look at the accounts of those state-run enterprises to see if anything illegal took place," Cheng said.

"If there was any illegal conduct, it would have been exposed long ago. The DPP's financial affairs are transparent and it has never forced any company to donate money to the DPP. We did not emulate the KMT's abuses of extortion by using its political clout," Cheng said.

Unlike the KMT, the DPP does not own any enterprises, and the system of DPP government officials raising funds for the party has been in place since the DPP was an opposition party, Cheng said.

"I believe that the DPP's annual expenses are far less than the campaign funds squandered by the KMT on `black gold.' The DPP welcomes public scrutiny of our fundraising efforts, but the same scrutiny should be applied to the KMT," Cheng said.

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