President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) refusal to explain the source of his jewelry assets has set a very bad example for the public, a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmaker said yesterday.
Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆), a KMT caucus whip in the legislature, made the remarks after the Presidential Office said it could not accommodate the Control Yuan's request to provide the names of relatives and friends who Chen and his wife claim to have borrowed jewelry from because those involved do not want their privacy infringed upon.
Tsai claimed that Chen, a lawyer-turned-politician, is "playing with the law."
He said Chen, under the pretext of borrowing from others and protecting the privacy of others, had set a bad example in the filing of assets of public functionaries.
If other public functionaries were to follow suit, the Public Functionaries Asset Disclosure Law (公職人員財產申報法) would be rendered unenforceable, he said.
The first couple sent a corrected version of their jewelry assets to the Control Yuan early last month, listing 15 pieces of jewelry and luxury watches that they own, worth a total of NT$3.72 million (US$114,110).
Legislators from the KMT and the People First Party then produced photos of 31 pieces of jewelry worn by the first lady on various occasions. The Control Yuan therefore asked for an explanation of those pieces from the first family within 15 days.
The first couple replied on the last day of the deadline that they had acquiesced to the Control Yuan's request by filing reports on their jewelry but had not reported on jewelry "borrowed from relatives or friends" because the relatives and friends were not being audited and should have the privacy of their assets protected. The Control Yuan then made the request for disclosure of the names of the relatives and friends.
According to the Public Functionary Assets Disclosure Law, any piece of jewelry, including watches, owned by public functionaries and worth more than NT$200,000 should be listed with the Control Yuan.