Fri, Oct 06, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Political party law draft passes committee review

`SUNSHINE' BILL Lawmakers across party lines on the Home and Nations Committee reached a consensus on the draft law, but not on a late addition on stolen assets

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A bill that would prohibit political parties from owning or operating commercial, media and public communications businesses passed a preliminary review in the legislature's Home and Nations Commit-tee yesterday, but lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on an article regarding the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) stolen assets.

The committee reviewed the proposed political party law yesterday, a crucial element of "sunshine bills" aimed at fighting corruption and creating a level playing field for political parties.

In accordance with Article 16 of the proposed legislation, political parties will not be allowed, directly or indirectly, to operate any businesses related to public communications, the media and all for-profit companies.

The article stipulates that political parties are forbidden from operating those businesses either in the name of the party itself or in the name of others.

While lawmakers across party lines reached consensus on the article, they were divided over whether the regulations on "party assets" should be incorporated in the bill.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chao Yung-ching (趙永清) proposed a motion stipulating ways of divesting the KMT of its "ill-gotten assets," but the move angered KMT lawmakers who said "it shouldn't be part of the bill."

Chao's proposal was in reaction to the long-stalled draft statute on the disposition of assets improperly obtained by political parties, which demands the KMT return stolen assets to the state.

Since 2002, the draft statute had been blocked 100 times from being put on the legislative agenda by the pan-blue-camp dominated in the Procedure Committee.

"Since the statute has been unavailable for review, we should take the opportunity to incorporate the regulations on party assets in the political party act," Chao said.

KMT Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) opposed Chao's motion, saying that the DPP shouldn't play tricks on the KMT by trying to sneakily add the assets clause.

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator David Huang (黃適卓) accused the KMT of attempting to sell its assets before the passage of the bill, claiming that the KMT under the leadership of Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has made NT$20.5 billion in profit from asset sales and has made another NT$565 million from selling shares in Singfor Life Insurance Co this month.

KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) challenged that assertion, saying it was unreasonable to prohibit political parties from owning real estate, such as that used for their offices.

Ting, who was chairing the Home and Nations Committee, then dismissed the committee, leaving the dispute over the party assets clause unsettled.

Additional reporting by CNA

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