Wed, Apr 04, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Pan-blues push amendment to clear Ma

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pan-blue lawmakers yesterday hoped to clear embezzlement allegations against former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) by proposing legislative measures that would decriminalize the personal use of special allowance funds.

An amendment to the Audit Law (審計法) proposed by the pan-blue legislators was added to the legislative agenda in the legislature's Procedure Committee yesterday.

The amendment is designed to redefine the special allowance funds that the central government grants to 6,500 public officials for their incidental expenses as "substantial subsidies."

"The controversy surrounding the special allowance fund lies in the ambiguity of its definition. Considering the purpose of the fund, it should be regarded as part of the officials' salaries," said People First Party Legislator Shen Chih-hwei (沈智慧), one of the initiators of the amendment.

Ma was indicted on corruption charges as he wired half of his monthly special allowance fund directly into a personal account during his term as Taipei mayor from 1998 to last year.

Although the doctrine of non-retroactivity is a general principle in legislation, the amendment says that all special allowances claimed by officials by the end of last year should be seen as "substantial subsidies," which could help clear Ma of embezzlement charges.

After Ma's special allowance became an issue for judicial investigation late last year, Ma gave different explanations for his use of the fund, initially saying that all the money was used for public affairs, but later saying the allowance was part of his salary.

Meanwhile, the opposition yesterday once again blocked a government-introduced amendment to the Organic Law of the National Communications Commission (國家通訊傳播委員會組織法), which had been sent to the legislature for review last October.

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