Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

KMT forms `assets response team'

DAMAGE CONTROL KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung will head up the team formed as a response to the criticsim generated by the release of the party's assets report

By Mo Yan-chih and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) candidate for Taipei mayor Clara Chou, right, and TSU Taipei City Councilor Liao Lin Li-ling yesterday express doubts over Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's report on KMT assets.

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Facing continuous challenges over its assets despite presenting a report on the matter on Wednesday, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it had formed a "party assets response team" to present its official stance on the issue.

"The KMT's position on the issue will be explained only by [party assets response team] members from now on ... Other people will not be allowed to speak for the KMT on the matter in the future," KMT Spokesman Huang Yu-chen (黃玉振) said yesterday.

The new 11-member team is led by KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) and includes party legislators and Policy Committee Deputy Chief Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文).

The KMT released a report on its assets on Wednesday, acknowledged its previous failure to explain the issue transparently and promised to place future assets in trust and to cease operating for-profit corporations.

While he did not offer an apology on Wednesday, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday acknowledged that the passage of time had made the manner in which the party had acquired certain assets appear illegitimate, apologized to the public and said he welcomed further examination of the issue.

"We apologize to the public. We are not of the opinion that party assets, which were acquired legally in the past, should be above question," Ma said yesterday at Taipei City Hall.

Although party members continue to differ on whether or not the KMT should have released the assets report and how the report should have been presented, Ma said the KMT "takes the first step with courage and makes our apologies to the Taiwanese people."

Ma dismissed the Taiwan Solidarity Union's claims that the KMT blamed the loss of some of its assets on former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who served as KMT chairman from 1989 to 2000, urging the public not to exaggerate the matter.

"There were profits and losses in every period, and we just presented the results ... The report is not targeted at anyone," he added.

People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday challenged the KMT over its failure to clarify which assets were acquired illegally.

"The KMT should return the money to the people if any assets were acquired illegally," Soong said during a municipal development tour in Taipei City.

Soong also urged the party to investigate whether KMT members and KMT-owned businesses had been unfairly advantaged.

Meanwhile, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday called on the public to support the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) campaign to reclaim the KMT's stolen assets.

"In a bid to provide a legal basis for the handling of the KMT's ill-gotten assets, it is time that the people directly express their opinion," Chen said in his latest weekly electronic newsletter.

Chen was referring to a campaign the DPP initiated to call for a national referendum demanding that the KMT return all of its stolen assets to the state. They also requested the legislature pass a party assets law.

Chen also noted that the DPP had collected the 100,000 signatures required to file a petition for the referendum.

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