Sun, Nov 26, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Academics say Ma must face consequences of actions

ONE RULE FOR ALL A group of professors said Ma could not use the excuse that everybody else did the same thing to justify his allegedly corrupt conduct

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ho Tsing-jen, president of the Taiwan Association of University Professors, left, Democratic Progressive Party Taipei city councilor candidate Hsu Chia-ching, center, and Cheng Kun-shan, a professor of criminology at National Chung Cheng University and a member of the association, hold up a model of a magnifying glass full of money at a press conference at National Taiwan University yesterday.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taiwan Association of University Professors yesterday said prosecutors should apply the same standards to the investigation into Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) handling of his mayoral special allowance as as they did with that of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Calling this a "principle of equality," Cheng Kun-shan (鄭昆山), a member of the association and a professor of Criminology at National Chung Cheng University, told a press conference yesterday that indicting the mayor and investigating other chiefs' allowances were necessary, even though many may be found to have mishandled their allowances.

But he said following indictments courts may reject such cases because the independence of the right of government administration would be violated if the judicial system made such an indictment.

Cheng called on the judicial system to hold onto its "judicial self-restraint" and respect the right of administration, by which he meant prosecutors should not investigate "political problems" such as the "state affairs fund" or government chiefs' special allowances.

Professor of the Department of Public Administration at Tamkang University Chen Ming-siang (陳銘祥) said Ma cannot evade his responsibility over his alleged misuse of his special allowance by arguing that 6,000 other governmental chiefs deal with their allowances in the same way he did.

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 expenditure using "claim forms" to be filled out by the fund's recipient.

Ma, who was accused of pocketing money that only required "claim forms" because he wired the money to his personal account, defended himself by saying that potential problems with the way that he handled the mayoral special allowance were the result of pitfalls in the way the system was organized

"If [he] has committed a crime, he should face the consequences. Whether or not other people are guilty has nothing to do with whether he is guilty. It's as simple as that," Chen Ming-siang said.

He added that people are obliged to understand legal regulations and that Ma was no exception particularly because he is a former minister of justice.

Tax-payers would never agree to consider government chiefs' special allowances as salary in a different form nor would they consider irregularities as a result of systemic problems amnestying the accused as a result, he said.

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