Sat, Mar 08, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Presidential election 2008: 14 days to go: Premier Chang agrees to 'Taiwan Weekly' inquest

SHAMELESS Ma Ying-jeou said that a newspaper that has published unsubstantiated accusations against leading KMT figures would go after his dead father next

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS, WITH CNA

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, from left, Alex Fai, Yang Chiung-ying and Hsu Shao-ping address a media conference in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

The legal system will determine whether a controversial Chinese-language weekly newspaper is illegally undermining the campaign of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said yesterday.

"The Executive Yuan is in favor of handling the matter in accordance with the law, but respects the prosecutor's decision and action in the legal proceedings," Chang said on the legislative floor.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) had asked the government to confiscate copies of Taiwan Weekly, which has published a series of unsubstantiated accusations against leading KMT figures and their family members, and probe the newspaper's publisher.

Wu accused the publishers of violating Article 104 of the Public Officials Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法), which states that people who spread inaccurate information to undermine candidates may be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison, Wu said.

Copy in the latest edition of the publication states that more than 150,000 free copies have been distributed since it was launched on Feb. 29.

In its first issue, the weekly claimed that KMT vice presidential candidate Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) owns several upscale residential properties, including one in the US. A week later, it accused Ma's wife Chow Mei-ching (周美青) of stealing newspapers from the Harvard University library when she studied there 27 years ago.

Both Siew and Chow have denied the charges and taken legal action.

Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林) said yesterday he would refer the case to the state public prosecutor-general.

Nevertheless, KMT Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) criticized the Government Information Office (GIO) for failing to record and verify the identity and address of Taiwan Weekly's publisher.

In response, a GIO official who wished to remain anonymous said that, since the Publication Act (出版法) was abolished in 1999, people are free to issue a publication without registering with the office.

The KMT caucus also accused Central News Agency (CNA), the state-sponsored news agency, of being involved in the production of Taiwan Weekly because the publication carried photos provided by CNA.

Later yesterday, CNA issued a statement saying that the photos, 13 in total, were purchased by a group named "Tai-wen Magazine Club" for NT$15,120.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued late on Wednesday night, Ma accused his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rival, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), of planning to attack his late father.

"My rival's campaign team has attacked my wife and my daughters recently, and I've heard that my late father will be the next target of their smear campaign," Ma said in the statement.

"As a son, I am asking my rival to allow my late father to rest in peace. I urge Hsieh's campaign team to focus on public policies because these issues are what the public care about," it said,

Ma said in the statement that his late father was not a perfect person, but his past should be buried with his ashes, rather than being dug up, distorted and exaggerated by his rival or the media.

Ma's father Ma Ho-ling (馬鶴凌) died of a heart attack at the age of 86 in 2005.

Ma spokesman Luo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said the next issue of Taiwan Weekly would accuse Ma Ho-ling of having an affair with a female friend some 20 years ago.

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