Fri, Jul 14, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma didn't sell Tokyo land: KMT

PROPERTY Responding to a report that the KMT chair was secretly selling a building in Tokyo, the KMT said the property had been obtained legally

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday dismissed accusations that party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took advantage of his visit to Japan to sell a KMT-owned property in Tokyo.

In a report yesterday in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) claimed that Ma's Japan trip had probably been arranged to handle the sale of the KMT-owned Taiwan Trade Development (TTD) building in Tokyo.

The report also quoted Lee as saying that the KMT had demanded that the broker "never sell the building to Taiwanese" in order to keep the deal a secret.

KMT Deputy Secretary-General Chang Che-chen (張哲琛) yesterday denied the report's claims.

"Both former KMT chairman Lien Chan [連戰] and chairman Ma only give general directions regarding the party asset issue and leave the details to those who are in charge," Chang said yesterday during a press conference at KMT headquarters.

Chang, who is in charge of sales of KMT assets, said Ma had never interfered with the handling of party asset sales.

If the chairman did go to handle the property in Tokyo, "I should have at least gone with him," Chang said.

Ma embarked on a five-day visit to Japan on Monday to enhance city-to-city exchanges in his capacity as Taipei mayor.

According to Chang, the KMT bought the TTD in 1993 for ?14 billion (US$12 million). Saying that the party acquired the building legally, Chang added that its value had plummeted when Japan's economy hit some bumps.

While denouncing the report as "untrue" and "purely fabricated," Chang acknowledged that the party was considering selling the building as the mortgage payments had become a heavy burden for the KMT.

"But we have not approached any real estate agencies ? Many potential buyers have already expressed interest. We will sell it as long as the price is reasonable," he said, adding that so far all of the potential buyers were Japanese.

According to the report, the TTD building has nine floors, with 90 percent of the space rented to companies or as apartments.

The KMT earns as much as ?260 million a year in rents, Lee said in the report.

Meanwhile, Ma cut short his trip and to return home today to oversee Taipei's preparations against tropical storm Bilis.

He was originally scheduled to tour Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Yokohama, as well as meet municipal officials to exchange views on city infrastructure development and related topics.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday said that he had been surprised upon learning of the allegations concerning the KMT's attempt to sell its property in Japan

"We never thought that [Ma] would try to sell a KMT asset like this, especially when most of its assets belong to the government and the people," Cabinet Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) quoted Su as saying.

A move by the KMT to sell its assets at this moment would spark controversy, so the Cabinet suggests Ma not do so, Cheng said.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

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