Thu, Jan 04, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Premier dismisses bribery allegation

PILL-PUSHERS PLOT?'Next Magazine' claims that Su Tseng-chang and six lawmakers took bribes from the National Chinese Herbal Apothecary Association ten years ago

By Flora Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday dismissed a media allegation that said he had accepted a bribe from a pharmaceutical manufacturer in 1997 in return for using his position to influence an amendment of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法) favorable to manufacturers.

Su said the money was a "regular political donation" given to him when he was running for Taipei County commissioner in 1997.

"It is obvious that I was not in the Legislative Yuan after being elected Taipei County commissioner, nor was I involved in the review of any bills," Su told reporters while he was on his way to the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Central Executive Committee meeting yesterday afternoon.

The latest issue of the Chinese-language Next Magazine has a story accusing Su and six former or current legislators of accepting bribes from the National Chinese Herbal Apothecary Association to help apothecaries regain their license to fill prescriptions that was lost because of a 1993 amendment.

The report said the association had given NT$40 million (US$1.2 million) to the seven politicians in 1997 and regained the right to fill prescriptions the next year.

The story quoted former association president Hsu Ching-sung (徐慶松) as saying that he had given Su NT$100,000.

However, Hsu said the money was a political donation for Su's Taipei County commissioner bid.

"As the year 2008 approaches, there will be more allegations of this kind. Any allegation is possible," Su said.

He did not comment on who could be behind the allegation or specify his relationship with Hsu.

The DPP threw its support behind Su yesterday.

DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said the allegation was part of the nation's democracy because politicians should be strictly examined before running for elections.

"I have been friends with Su for a long time. I know him. He is a man with integrity, but I also respect the [judicial] system," Yu said. "[I] hope the judiciary will clear his name."

DPP caucus whip Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津) said she believed in the premier and urged those who made the allegation to present evidence of their claims.

DPP Legislator Jao Yung-ching (趙永清), who Next Magazine also accused of taking a bribe, issued a statement refuting the allegation.

He said he was asked to assist prosecutors in their investigation into the case, but was not a target.

He also said that the prosecutors had believed in his innocence.

Jao said he had "never taken any illegal funds" since he stepped into the political scene and was willing to be examined.

Next Magazine said the association had offered Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liu Shen-liang (劉盛良) NT$2 million, but that he hadn't accepted it.

KMT Legislator Hsu Shu-po (許舒博) said the association had given him NT$1 million as a political donation in 1998, when he was running for re-election.

"My wife received the money from a friend whom I had known in the army. He is a member of the association, so I didn't see anything wrong with taking his political contribution," Hsu said.

"My stance on the legislation had nothing to do with that," he added.

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