Wed, Feb 15, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma under fire over London party

QUESTIONABLE SUPPORT A Taiwanese businessman who backs Beijing's `Anti-Secession' Law was a meeting donor, while a man wanted by Taiwanese authorities was an attendee

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou speaks on the topic ``Bridging the Divide -- A Vision for Peace in East Asia'' at the London School of Economics and Political Science on Monday. The Chinese Nationalist Party chairman is in London as part of a five-nation European trip in his capacity as mayor.

PHOTO: CNA

A reception that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) attended in London on Sunday with local overseas Chinese was sponsored in part by supporters of Beijing's "Anti-Secession" Law, the head of a British-Taiwanese association said yesterday.

Taiwanese Association in the UK director Lee Yi-te (李奕德), who teaches at a British university, told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview yesterday that the reception organizers had received a ?1,000 (US$1,744) donation from Chan Sheng (單聲), a British Taiwanese businessman and a staunch supporter of the Anti-Secession Law.

"Lin Wei (林葳), director of the Sun Yat-sen Association [a reception sponsor] had expressed gratitude to Chan during the event for his donation of ?1,000," Lee said.

"We're stunned that Ma accepted a reception and donation from someone who supported the Anti-Secession Law. Chan had personally suggested to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) the need to legislate the Anti-Secession Law," Lee said.

"He [Chan] has also been seen to openly support China's military aggression against Taiwan," Lee said.

"Ma said here that he is committed to defending Taiwan's sovereignty, but Chan's donation made us wonder whether he was saying one thing but doing another," Lee said.

Chan, who is also head of a British-Chinese association advocating Taiwan's unification with China, has supported Beijing's controversial law and use of military force against Taiwan in a number of publications.

"The Anti-Secession Law [has] the utmost respect for Taiwanese people's will for peace and is the best way to maintain the cross-strait status quo," Chan was quoted as saying by China's state-run Xinhua news agency on Dec. 21, 2004.

Ma is on the UK leg of a five-nation European tour.

He gave a speech on cross-strait relations during the reception on Sunday. The reception was organized by the KMT's UK branch, the Sun Yat-sen Association and the Republic of China Women's Association in the UK.

In addition to dozens of overseas Taiwanese residents in London, the attendees included overseas Chinese and Hong Kong residents.

Also present was a former official of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission (OCAC), Rao Gang (饒剛), who has been charged by the Taipei District Court with corruption but who has failed to return home to stand trial.

"We're disappointed that these people were seen at Ma's reception. The appearance of a corrupt official at Ma's event was very ironic since Ma has long been trying to build a corruption-free image," Lee said.

"We wanted to ask if this means that if Ma is elected president, Rao's case [would] no longer be pursued by the authorities," Lee said.

Rao served as secretary of the OCAC in the UK for nine years. He has been wanted since September 2002 on suspicion of embezzling funds from the UK office's budget.

Meanwhile, the Taipei City Government yesterday denied that it planned the reception.

"I did not hear about any of this from our people in Europe. I do not know about anyone making donations to the mayor, but I do not think this is something planned by us," Wu Chyou-mei (吳秋美), vice director of the Department of Information, told the Taipei Times.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih

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