Thu, Nov 23, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Survey suggests majority want action on assets

GIVE THEM BACK A recent Taiwan Thinktank survey showed strong support for the return of the Chinese Nationalist Party's stolen assets

By Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Some 69 percent of people agree that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) should return its stolen assets to the public, while 68 percent think that the party should suspend its asset sales until a consensus is reached on the issue, a private think tank's survey has found.

The survey, conducted by Taiwan Thinktank last Friday and Saturday, questioned 1,074 people on the issue of the KMT's assets.

Forty percent of those polled agreed that the KMT was not sincere in its handling of the issue. More than 42 percent said they were not satisfied with KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) handling of the problem, while 38 percent said they were satisfied.

More than 66 percent agreed that the issue should be decided by the public if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-proposed party asset bill failed to pass the legislature, while more than 54 percent said they supported the DPP's proposal to hold a referendum on the KMT's assets.

Urging the KMT to handle the problem in keeping with public opinion, Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), an assistant research fellow in political science at Academia Sinica, said the survey highlighted the fact that the KMT's assets were still an area of concern.

Even though Ma had vowed to handle the asset issue in a transparent manner, he had no been able to sway public opinion the the party's favor, Hsu said.

Asset sales

Under Ma's chairmanship, the party has sold five assets -- its Policy Research and Develop-ment Department, three media outlets and its former headquarters -- for a total of NT$11.4 billion (US$340 million) since August last year.

The current value of the KMT's assets is NT$27.7 billion, according to the KMT.

As the KMT's own report released on Aug. 23 admitted to NT$80.8 billion (US$2.33 billion) in assets when Lien Chan (連戰) took over as party chairman in 2000, this means that the assets have declined almost three-fold since then.

Ma has ignored DPP calls for the KMT to cease selling off its assets and said that the party would only give up those assets it had acquired improperly.

In an attempt to force the issue, an alliance led by the DPP presented a proposal to the Executive Yuan in September to hold a national referendum on the KMT's assets.

Petition

After collecting 108,000 signatures, the alliance submitted a petition to the "Referendum Review Commission" for screening on Oct. 4. As the commission failed to act on the petition within one month -- a requirement outlined in the the Referen-dum Law (公民投票法) -- DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun filed a complaint with the Executive Yuan's Appeals Review Committ-ee on Nov. 6, and this was upheld on Monday.

Huang Yu-lin (黃玉霖), a member of the commission, lashed out at the KMT for delaying the review process while continuing to sell its assets.

The members of the commission were nominated by political parties according to their number of seats in the legislature. As a result, six of the commission's 21 members are KMT members.

The commission decided on Nov. 3 that its 21 members would vote on the petition this Friday.

DPP caucus whip Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津) told a press conference yesterday that the Executive Yuan's Appeals Review Committee had made the right decision.

Yeh said the Referendum Review Commission had no right to ignore the wishes of the 108,000 people who had signed the petition.

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