Wed, Aug 02, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Special allowance fund a legacy of the KMT: analyst

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) attempts to explain the Presidential Office's controversial special allowance fund are understandable, but they will have limited effect if their purpose is to justify continuing the system, analysts say.

"The system is the legacy of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime and a typical case of transitional justice," said Chen Yen-hui (陳延輝), a professor at the Graduate Institute of Political Science at National Taiwan Normal University.

In a bid to allay public concern over the Presidential Office's special allowance fund, Chen received Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers and media talk show hosts on Monday, showing them documents in a bid to dismiss the embezzlement allegation.

The Supreme Prosecutors' Office launched an investigation into allegations of embezzlement at the Presidential Office after the Ministry of Audit claimed that documents related to the Presidential Office's reimbursement of expenditures from a special allowance fund last year contained irregularities.

KMT legislators alleged that first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) had used fake receipts to mask embezzlement from the fund.

The Presidential Office issued a statement on Monday, saying that the president would be happy to personally explain the matter to prosecutors and investigators.

Chen yesterday met Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to offer a personal account. He showed Wang documents on how the fund was allocated during Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) presidency.

President Chen is further planning to meet with the opposition parties' legislative caucus whips, and the Presidential Office is studying the possibility of explaining the matter directly to the public.

Commenting on President Chen's all-out efforts to clear up the controversy, Chen Yen-hui said that they would have little meaning if the system did not become more open and transparent.

KMT practice

"While nobody dared to question the Presidential Office's special allowance fund during the KMT's reign, the DPP administration has drawn a lot of flak for simply following the practice established by the KMT," he said.

Although it was understandable that the the president wanted to prove his innocence, Chen Yen-hui said that it might have limited effect because lawmakers have little influence on the judicial system, especially as most prosecutors and investigators are pro-KMT.

Moreover, KMT legislators would most likely reject any explanation by President Chen, while DPP legislators who are anxious to win next year's legislative election may choose to distance themselves from or even attack President Chen in hopes of garnering more votes.

Chen Yen-hui said he suspected that the embezzlement allegations and string of corruption scandals were an inside job initiated by pro-KMT career civil servants, who knew the flaws in the government's system very well.

This, however, was not entirely bad for the development of the country, Chen Yen-hui said, because the revelation of administrative irregularities could lessen corruption.

Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華), an executive member of the Taipei Society, said although he agreed that President Chen should offer a clear account of the special allowance fund, it would not be easy to pacify the opposition parties and the media.

To solve the problem once and for all, Ku called on the administration to reassess the government's operations and make the necessary adjustments.

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