Wed, Aug 02, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chen shows Wang fund receipts

SHOW ME PROOF The ever tactful legislative speaker remained tight-lipped as to whether he believed the president was innocent or guilty of any wrongdoing

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng responds to reporters' questions at the legislature following a visit to President Chen Shui-bian at the Presidential Office.

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

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 (王永興).

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 (蔣介石), Chiang Ching-ku (蔣經國), and Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) used the fund in the past.

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 (羅志明) said.

"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 (蔡煌瑯), who met the president on Monday along with the three DPP caucus whips, said yesterday that the president was not happy over the misunderstanding relating to the special allowance expenditure.

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