The Presidential Office yesterday expressed regret over the explanations offered by 17 former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials who have been accused of failing to return official documents after former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) stepped down, urging them to offer a full account of the matter to the government watchdog.
Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said the 17 officials in question had offered various explanations since the news broke on Tuesday.
“We are sorry to see that none of them are willing to take responsibility or conduct any soul searching,” he said. “It is not a small matter that more than 30,000 documents are missing. Apart from shirking responsibility, can they show just a little bit of guts and explain to the public what happened?”
The DPP has questioned why the handover task force in charge of the transfer of power in 2008 did not complain about the missing documents at the time. It also cast doubt on the timing of the revelation and accused the government of abusing its administrative power.
Lo, who was a member of the task force, said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did not have any administrative power before he was sworn in on May 20, 2008.
Lo accused the former DPP administration of “deliberately concealing the information, removing, destroying and failing to return documents” during the hand-over process. He urged the DPP to refrain from finding excuses for a fiasco of their own making.
Lo added that the Ma administration had been working to make the filing system at the Presidential Office transparent, and asked whether the DPP had not bothered out of a desire to get away with fraud.
A two-year investigation conducted by the Presidential Office found that between May 20, 2000, and May 19, 2008, the Presidential Office received 38,924 documents. Of those, 36,292 had gone missing after being distributed to the offices of the president, the vice president, the secretary--general and two deputy secretary-generals during the eight-year period.
The 17 former officials have been referred to the Control Yuan for further investigation.
The next step will be to find the missing documents and “clean up the mess,” Lo said.
One of the former officials is former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who is vying for the DPP’s presidential nomination.
Lo said that if the DPP was unable to supervise something as simple as the filing of documents, how could Su describe himself as someone who has an “extraordinary ability to carry out tasks.”
“The biggest difference between this administration and the former DPP administration is that we abide by the law, respect the nation’s regulations and systems and are always thinking about the interests of the people,” Lo said.
Separately, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) team that oversaw the transition between administrations in 2008 yesterday also hit back at DPP accusations it failed to check the documents carefully.
KMT Vice Chairman Chan Chun-po (詹春柏), who headed the handover team, said the formal handover process on May 20, 2008, was ceremonial, as the team did not have the authority to check all the documents in the National Archive Administration.
According to Chan, the team met with former presidential office secretary-general Mark Chen (陳唐山) on April 3 and April 25, 2008, at the Presidential Office to discuss the handover.