Wed, Jun 27, 2007 - Page 3 News List

GIO defends program to retrieve KMT's stolen assets

HIDDEN AGENDA The GIO rebutted KMT charges that it was using the campaign to promote political conflict or limiting bidding for the project to profit special groups

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A government program designed to recover the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) stolen assets was the subject of heated debate yesterday as the Government Information Ministry (GIO) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers traded barbs on accusations of deceit and abuse of public funds.

Under the program headed by the Cabinet's Research Development and Evaluation Commission, the government would allocate NT$9.5 million (US$289,000) to hold exhibitions around the country on its campaign to retrieve the KMT's stolen assets.

GIO Minister Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) yesterday said that the program was a "very good" plan that a "responsible" government should implement.

He was responding to KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao's (賴士葆) accusations that the government was abusing public funds to promote "political conflict."

Lai also accused the commission of adopting a limited bidding approach in its search for a company to undertake the exhibitions in order to let specific parties profit from the program.

"Both of the accusations are wrong," Shieh said.

Shieh said the Democratic Progressive Party government came up with the program for the good of the public and the nation, and not for the party itself.

Spending NT$9.5 million to get back the KMT's stolen assets, which are worth tens of billion of NT dollars for the public is sound government policy, he said.

Shieh added that the commission has adopted an open, public -- and not a limited -- bidding approach, meaning there is no limit to the number of bidders.

Responding to Shieh's comments, KMT Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) called the program a DPP move to boost its chances in the coming elections.

The DPP has called on the government to hold a referendum on retrieving the KMT's stolen assets in tandem with next year's presidential election, claiming it had collected sufficient signatures from the public to validate the request.

Meanwhile, the commission yesterday issued a statement dismissing Lai's accusation about the bidding approach, saying it had not set any limitation on the number of bidders.

The statement said that the bidding conformed to stipulations in the Government Procurement Law (政府採購法) and denied it was open to profiteering.

DPP caucus whip Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) yesterday also defended the Cabinet and criticized the KMT for failing to return its stolen assets to the people.

"If the KMT refuses to return the assets, whatever it says about giving Taiwan hope would only be lies," he told a press conference.

Wang said it is correct for the Cabinet to hold an exhibition on the stolen assets because the public would then be able to understand how the KMT stole them.

DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲), who was at the conference, said the Cabinet's campaign did not target any specific party.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG

Also see story:
Editorial: The albatross of KMT party assets

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