To ward off concerns over embezzlement allegations relating to a special allowance fund expenditure, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday met Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and showed him receipts for the controversial state affairs fund.
After meeting with Chen yesterday morning, the speaker told the press that the president did show him receipts for the expenditures.
Wang, however, declined to comment on whether he accepted the president's explanation and whether he thought Chen did anything wrong.
The Ministry of Audit last week said that 76.76 percent of the expenditures covered by the "special allowance" fund last year -- NT$48 million (US$1.46 million) in total -- had not been reimbursed in conformity with related regulations and might contain irregularities.
Those ruled irregular included half of the expenditures whose receipts were not open to inspection by government auditors, with the Presidential Office citing the need for "confidentiality," according to the ministry's spokesman Wang Yung-hsing (
When pressed by reporters over the Presidential Office's previous explanation that part of the fund was used in a "South Route Project," which the office said was an unofficial diplomatic task between Taiwan and Australia,Wang said he couldn't say anything about the receipts.
"The matter is under judicial investigation and the president will explain it to prosecutors as well as to the public," he said.
Wang said that Chen also told him how former presidents Chiang Kai-shek (
Chen is also planning to meet with opposition leaders, Wang said, but lawmakers from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) said yesterday that they wouldn't accept Chen's invitation.
"As long as the president makes it clear to the Ministry of Audit by showing all receipts and documents he submitted for reimbursement, there is no need for him to explain to us in private," KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said.
"I thought [Chen] wanted to prove that he used the fund and dealt with the reimbursement according to convention by showing the documents concerning former president Lee's usage of the fund," Taiwan Solidarity Union Secretary-General Lo Chih-ming (
"The president might try to say that it's not fair that he is not allowed to use the fund in the same way that former presidents had done before," Lo added, urging Chen to clarify the allegation either through the judiciary or by accepting an inspection by the Ministry of Audit, rather than "complaining" to legislators.
KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday also urged Chen to tell the truth.
"It doesn't matter who President Chen talked to or what they talked about. The most important thing is to tell the truth," Ma said yesterday after presiding over a municipal meeting at the Taipei City Hall.
If the president did use the discretionary fund to finance many confidential diplomatic operations, Ma said, he should provide solid proof and explain the issue to the public.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Spokesman Tsai Huang-liang (