Sat, Aug 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Shih fundraising illegal: government

RAIN ON HIS PARADE The Ministry of the Interior said that it would be illegal for Shih Ming-teh to raise money for his planned campaign to oust President Chen Shui-bian

CNA , TAIPEI

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) is not legally eligible to accept political donations for his planned fundraising campaign, an official from the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday.

Huang Li-hsin (黃麗馨), director of the ministry's Department of Civil Affairs, made the remarks one day after Shih, who served as DPP chairman between 1994 and 1996 before quitting the party in 2000, said he would launch a campaign to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Shih is scheduled to launch the fundraising drive campaign today at Taipei's 228 Peace Memorial Park.

According to Article 3 of the Statute Governing Donations for Public Interest Purposes (公益勸募條例), such fundraising activities must be initiated by a group or organization.

Huang said that according to the statute, donations that are collected in the name of the public interest are to be used for social welfare or humanitarian assistance, and not for political or religious activities.

Shih's planned campaign clearly fell into the category of political activities and should be governed by the political donation law, Huang said. Huang cited Article 5 of the Political Donations Law (政治獻金法) as stating that only political parties, political groups or candidates running in elections can accept the donations.

"As Shih is not a candidate in any election, he cannot accept political donations as an individual," Huang said.

Anyone found guilty of violating the law must return all of the funds collected and pay a fine equal to the total amount collected, she said.

However, a spokeswoman for Shih's "one person, NT$100" campaign claimed the fundraising activity was not breaking any law.

Ho De-fen (賀德芬), professor emeritus at National Taiwan University, said the NT$100 contribution is a "registration fee" for joining the campaign, not a donation for somebody to engage in a political activity.

Some critics have said that the fundraising drive might violate the law governing the collection of charitable donations, but Ho pointed out that the campaign was not for charity and that there was no "institutional person" in charge of the movement.

The NT$100 contributions will be used to pay for food and drinks and cleaning at the proposed sit-ins, she said, adding that it would signify an individual citizen's commitment and authorization in support of the campaign.

Ho said that the organizers would hire professional accountants to keep tabs on how the public donations are used and an auditing report will be made available on the Internet every day.

Shih, sometimes called the "Nelson Mandela of Taiwan" because of his 25-year imprisonment resulting from his pro-democracy activism, said that a bank account would be opened to accept donations beginning on Monday.

If the target of 1 million donors can be reached within one month, the campaign to oust Chen will be launched on Sept. 9 with daily sit-ins by protesters in front of the Presidential Office.

If the target of one million can be achieved sooner, the campaign will begin earlier than planned, according to Shih.

The DPP yesterday urged Shih not to target Chen and set his ouster as the only goal while criticizing the governing party.

"The DPP holds Shih in great esteem, and the party will seriously address his recent move," said DPP spokesman Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), referring to Shih's recent letter to the president urging him to step down.

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