Special legislation is required to recover the “ill-gotten” party assets from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and that could only be possible after a change of administration after the presidential election next year, panelists said in a forum yesterday.
Taiwan should learn from the experience of a reunified Germany in the 1990s, which set up a special committee to enact special legislation to deal with the “historical issue,” because the KMT showed no signs of letting go of its party assets, said Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄), a former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) official, in a forum organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust think tank.
The KMT always said that it would “clean up” its party assets in accordance with the law and it has placed the assets in trust, said Hsu, who was in charge of a KMT party assets recovery program during the DPP administration.
“The fact is, the KMT welcomes anyone who questions its assets to file lawsuits and will not hand those assets over until somebody beats it in the courtroom. At the same time, the party still profits from those assets,” Hsu said.
Those profits could be incredibly high, as the latest data published by the Ministry of the Interior on political party assets showed the KMT made NT$3.5 billion (US$121.3 million) last year, with stock dividends accounting for almost NT$2.9 billion, making up more than four-fifths of the party’s total earnings.
The DPP has suffered setbacks in moving the legislation in the past because it has been almost always the minority party in the legislature, Hsu said, adding that there nevertheless was hope for the future.
“If the People First Party, which has been aggressive in vying for legislative seats in the January’s legislative elections, is able to win some seats, it could be the DPP’s ally on the issue,” he said.
The KMT has found it difficult to defend the legitimacy of the assets, which it seized from the Japanese colonial government and countless private businesses and individuals when it took control of Taiwan, making it for a time the richest political party in the world.
“That’s why it agreed to deal with the assets,” National Taipei University finance professor Huang Shih-hsin (黃世鑫) said.
However, the KMT is still using funds and profits from these assets, Huang said.
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) repeated pledges to make the KMT “asset-free” is, as a final solution, unrealistic, Taiwan Brain Trust vice chairman Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟) said.
Chen said that regulations of political party finances should be written into law, preferably in a new constitution.
To increase the visibility of the issue, which the majority of people feel is irrelevant to their daily lives because they “didn’t feel that they have been robbed of anything,” the DPP should tell Taiwanese how the stolen assets will be used to improve their quality of life once the assets are recovered, said Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), a political professor at Soochow University.