Wed, Nov 29, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma defends record on donations

WHOSE WELFARE?The Taipei mayor said that donations from his special Taipei mayoral allowance fund were not made to his 'private properties'

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

From left to right, Chinese Nationalist Party legislators Hsu Shao-ping, Tseng Yung-chuan and Hung Hsiu-chu criticize the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics yesterday for failing to identify the systemic problems behind recent controversies of special allowance funds. The trio demanded the agency give the public a clear explanation of the regulations to clarify if the problems are due to shortcomings in the system or illegal behavior by the officials involved.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Facing continued accusations from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators over donations made to his own foundations, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended himself but declined to confirm whether he would publicize his donation records today.

"The foundations are not my private properties. They are welfare groups... I didn't make the donations to my house," Ma said when approached by reporters for comments about his donation record.

Among the NT$69 million (US$2.09 million) in donations Ma claimed to have made to public welfare groups over the past eight years, more than NT$47 million was used to establish two foundations -- the Dwen An Social Welfare Foundation and the New Taiwanese Cultural Foundation.

DPP legislators earlier questioned Ma for making such a large portion of his donations to his own foundations.

PUBLIC WELFARE

Defending his donations, Ma yesterday argued that both foundations were dedicated to welfare services, with the Dwen An Social Welfare Foundation counseling teenagers in order to prevent depression and the New Taiwanese Cultural Foundation devoting its efforts to promoting local culture.

"If that doesn't count as donations made to public welfare groups, what does?" Ma asked.

When asked whether he would make public his donation records today, the mayor declined to give an exact date.

"We are still sorting the information and the work has not finished yet, and so I don't have an exact date," Ma said.

He said that he might consider not publicizing the records and just giving the information to the prosecutors.

Taipei Deputy Mayor King Pu-tseng (金溥聰) later confirmed that the Taipei City Government was sorting out the donation receipts.

He would hold a press conference along with city government Secretariat Director Lee Sush-der(李述德) and the accountants to release the records soon, he said.

King said Ma would not attend the press conference, as the case is under the investigation and the city government agreed that Ma should not discuss the matter.

The city government last night said it would make the records public tomorrow.

Ma recently made a donation of NT$16 million from his personal account to more than 11 groups. Those donations, added to the NT$5 million he donated during the past eight years, would equal the NT$16 million of his monthly mayoral special allowance that was not subject to accounting oversight, Ma said previously.

WANG SPEAKS UP

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) spoke in Ma's defense yesterday, saying that any mishandling of the special allowance fund was merely "the making of an inadvertent mistake."

Wang made the remarks to reporters after receiving American Institute in Taiwan Director Stephen Young at the legislature.

Wang said that he and Young had discussed the long-stalled supplemental budget for the purchase of weapons from the US, next month's mayoral elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung and the allegations concerning Ma's special allowance fund.

Asked whether Young had pressed him to help pass the arms bill, Wang refused to comment.

"He just reminded us that we need to come up with a method to meet the demands of the nation's military forces," Wang said.

In related news, KMT Legislator Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday dismissed a report that said he would succeed Ma as the KMT chairman if Ma was indicted.

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