Fri, Aug 24, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Ma plans to file suit against councilor

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan holds up a DVD outside the Longshan Temple MRT station in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) campaign office said yesterday it would file a suit against Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) for damaging Ma's reputation by distributing DVDs relating to Ma's corruption trial.

Ma was indicted on Feb. 13 for allegedly embezzling funds from his special mayoral allowance during his term as Taipei mayor. Prosecutors said Ma had wired half of his monthly special mayoral allowance -- NT$170,000 -- directly into a personal account and had in this way accumulated NT$11,176,227 (US$338,910) in accounts belonging to him and his wife.

During the trial, Ma admitted he had used half of his special allowance for personal expenses, but said he regarded the money as part of his income.

Ma was found not guilty by the Taipei Disctrict Court last Tuesday.

Days before the verdict was handed down, Yen publicized and distributed DVDs containing a video-recording of a conversation between Yen and Ma during a question-and-answer session on the city council floor last year when Ma was still Taipei mayor.

In the recording, Ma repeatedly stated that he had always separated his special allowance from his income, Ma also answered "yes" when asked by Yen if the special allowance could only be used for public expenditure.

In addition, Ma said during the question-and-answer that he would accept whatever penalty was deemed appropriate if he was proven to have used the allowance to cover private expenditure.

Ma also said "yes" when asked if he would retire from politics if found to have used the fund in this way.

Ma's campaign spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said in the press release yesterday that "Ma never mentioned the words `public fund' in the video -- it was Yen who said those words and she should not put her words in Ma's mouth."

The only thing Ma said in the conversation was that he claimed money from "his special allowance with receipts for work-related and public welfare expenses," the statement said.

"Ma has donated NT$68 million to welfare organizations during his eight years as Taipei mayor, which is about four times the total amount he claimed from his special allowance, NT$15 million," the statement said.

Lo said Yen should rise above party politicking and question how much DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) had spent on his own expenses during his time as Kaohsiung mayor.

Yen said it was "ridiculous that Ma's campaign office had called her a liar since the video recording was original and unaltered."

"Of course he didn't actually say the words `public fund,' but he answered `yes' to my question and did not object when I described the [special allowance] money as a public fund," Yen said.

"I'm not a Kaohsiung city councilor so it's not my job to question a [former] Kaohsiung mayor," she said.

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