Mon, Nov 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

KMT lawmakers ask DPP officials to donate their special funds to charity

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday demanded that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians donate their special allowance funds to charity, as Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has recently done with his.

Under an obscure executive order dating from the 1950s, more than 6,500 local government chiefs receive a discretionary budget, half of which can be used for public expenditures using "claim forms" filled out by the fund's recipient.

Ma's monthly discretionary fund is NT$340,000, meaning that he receives NT$170,000 a month in funds that do not require independent accounting oversight but do require the mayor to submit "claim forms" detailing how the funds were spent.

Ma, in response to accusations that he had pocketed cash from the portion of the fund that does not require receipts by having it wired to his personal account, announced late Friday night that he would donate the sum to charity. The amount, totaling NT$15 million (US$455,580), is equal to the "claim form" portion of his monthly mayoral allowance over the past eight years.

The move has been criticized by DPP legislators as an effort to hide his "embezzlement." However, DPP lawmakers have accused Ma of trying to quell allegations of embezzlement by making donations.

The Taipei City Government said that because Ma had used up the funds on public welfare projects, the cash that he was donating to charity was from his personal fortune.

KMT lawmakers yesterday held a press conference to respond to the DPP's claims.

"DPP politicians who are unable to explain how they have spent their special allowance funds should follow Ma's example in contributing the money to charity," KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun were singled out by KMT lawmakers to detail how they have spent their special allowance fund.

KMT lawmakers said Ma had every right to feel aggrieved at the embezzlement allegations made by DPP lawmakers, as he is unable to prove that he had spent the portion of the fund deposited in his personal account on public welfare.

"Given that claiming half of the special allowance fund via cash or check is lawful, and officials are not required to provide receipts for the disbursal of the funds, it's unreasonable to ask Ma to provide evidence of how he used the money," KMT Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) said.

At a separate event yesterday,Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said [He has] "always believed that Ma's actions were in conformity with the law."

But he added that making donations to charities might not be helpful in bringing the issue to an end.

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