Sat, Aug 11, 2007 - Page 3 News List

DPP figures urge Ma to honor promise to retire

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung, right, and DPP Taipei City Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan question Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's integrity during a press conference yesterday.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

Two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members yesterday called Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) a liar and urged him to end his political career, as he had once promised to do.

DPP Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) and Taipei City Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) made the remarks during a news conference at the Legislative Yuan.

Ma, who stands accused of embezzling part of his monthly special allowance during his time as Taipei Mayor, will receive the verdict next week.

Prosecutors found that, from December 1998 to last July, Ma had wired half of his monthly special allowance -- NT$170,000 -- directly into a personal account, and indicted him in February.

However, Ma said during his ongoing trial that he had taken the special allowance funds given to public officials, including during his eight-year tenure as Taipei mayor, because he regarded the money as part of his income as a government official.

"Ma knew very well that the mayoral special allowance is a public fund and should be used only for work-related purposes," Hsu said. "But some media organizations, Ma's campaign team and his lawyers are defending Ma as `not having intended to embezzle' because he didn't know" the rules.

Hsu backed up his accusations with a video recording of a conversation between Ma and Yen during a Taipei City Council question-and-answer session when Ma was still mayor of Taipei.

In the video, Ma said "we do not use the special allowance for private expenditure," when asked by Yen if this was allowed.

When Yen asked if the special allowance fund could only be used for public purposes, Ma said "yes."

Ma states in the video that "the special allowance fund is clearly separate from my personal expenditure ... I never used the special allowance for private purposes, don't worry," and "my special allowance fund has only been used for official affairs or public welfare."

When Yen asked what Ma would do if he used the special allowance for private purposes, Ma answered: "I'll take whatever penalty if you can prove it."

"If we find out one day that you used the special allowance fund for private purposes, would you retire from politics?" Yen asked at the end of the video.

"Yes," Ma replied.

"Ma is lying to everyone," Yen told the press conference. "He should be ashamed of himself and retire from politics as promised."

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