Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma praises Keelung chief over membership move

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li announces yesterday that he had suspended his membership in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

PHOTO: LU HSIEN-HSIU, TAIPEI TIMES

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday endorsed a decision by Keelung's mayor to apply for his KMT membership to be suspended.

Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利), who was summoned for questioning by prosecutors on Tuesday over his alleged involvement in real-estate fraud, announced his decision yesterday to suspend his party membership in order not to "make things difficult for Chairman Ma."

Ma, whose support helped Hsu win the mayoral election, said he respected the decision.

"I approve of him demanding a high standard of himself and I respect his decision ? Besides, by being unwilling to become a burden to the party, Hsu showed that he is confident of his innocence," Ma said yesterday morning.

While responding positively to Hsu's decision, Ma has ordered the party's integrity and efficiency monitoring committee to investigate the case.

KMT Spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) said yesterday the party will expel Hsu if the committee or prosecutors find him guilty.

"The integrity and efficiency monitoring committee will begin operating starting next Wednesday, and Hsu's case will be the first it looks into," she said yesterday at KMT headquarters.

Asked why the KMT chose to nominate Hsu despite his alleged involvement in fraud, Cheng said the mayor's qualifications weren't seen as presenting any problem during the nomination process.

"As the party leader, it's normal and there's nothing improper about Chairman Ma campaigning for him," she added.

Cheng said the KMT had never asked Hsu to suspend his party membership.

The investigation stems from accusations leveled against Hsu by Keelung businessman Lin Cheng-ming (林正明) last year.

Lin said that Hsu invited him in 2003 to jointly invest in a plot of land in the city.

Lin claims that he and Hsu invested a total of NT$47 million (US$1.47 million) in land purchases and that Hsu sold the land to the city government's bus bureau for NT$85 million, hoping to make a NT$38 million profit.

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