Wed, Nov 29, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chou Hsi-wei tells critics to ask Ministry of Audit

ALLOWANCE QUESTIONS The Taipei County chief said he could not release records about the premier, while a DPP lawmaker defended her husband's use of his fund

By Mo Yan-chih, Flora Wang and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) defended himself yesterday in the face of criticism from fellow Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members who have been pressing him to release the records of a predecessor's use of the special allowance fund that goes with the job.

Chou said he had no authority to publicize the records from Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) term as county commissioner.

"According to the Audit Law (審計法), the original receipts used for the reimbursements should be sent to the Ministry of Audit, and as an official, I have no authority to publicize the records even if I had a copy," Chou said while attending a municipal event at the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

Chou said the KMT lawmakers who want the records publicized should ask the ministry, not him.

He said he was confident of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) integrity amid the mayoral special allowance fund scandal, and questioned how Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators who claim to have evidence of original receipts submitted to Ma's fund got them.

"If they really have those original receipts, how were those leaked? The prosecutors should find out who violated the Audit Law," Chou said.

Another KMT member, Taoyuan County Commissioner Chu Li-lun (朱立倫), joined Chou in defending Ma, but then urged other party members not to discuss the possible impact of the Ma investigation on the 2008 presidential elections.

"We should be focusing on examining the system's flaws, instead of just thinking about elections," the commissioner said.

Chu said he never saw the special allowance fund records of one of his predecessors -- Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) -- and insisted that he has handled his fund according to the law.

In related news, DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) spoke out in defense of her husband and his use of receipts yesterday. Hsu Yang-ming (許陽明) was Tainan deputy mayor from 2001 to last year.

KMT Tainan City Councilor Hsieh Lung-chieh (謝龍介) last week filed suit against Hsu Yang-ming and DPP Tainan Mayor Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財), accusing them of using fraudulent receipts to seek reimbursements from their special allowance funds and depositing part of their allowances into their personal bank accounts.

Kuan said her husband would accept an examination of his handling of his allowance by the same standard Prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁) used in his investigation into President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "state affairs fund" case.

Reading an official statement on behalf of her husband, Kuan told a press conference that her husband had not pocketed any of his allowance during his term.

He will make public the details of his allowance as soon as possible after he makes a thorough check of all the information, she said, without giving a timeframe.

Tainan prosecutors said yesterday neither Hsus were defendants in the probe into their handing of their special allowances.

A lead prosecutor from the Tainan District Prosecutors' Office, Lin Chih-feng (林志峰), told a press conference that the pair were considered "concerned parties" and that it was too early to say whether they would be charged. Neither man has been subpoenaed.

However, a secretary of Hsu Yang-ming, Wang Hsiao-fang (王筱芳), became a defendant after a prosecutors' interview on Monday, Lin said. Wang was in charge of Hsu Yang-ming's handing of his special allowance fund, Lin said and is suspected of submitting fraudulent receipts.

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