The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has so many ill-gotten assets that even it has no idea how much its assets are worth and the only certainty is that those assets are the root of all evil in Taiwanese politics because of the unfair competition that came with them, analysts said at a forum yesterday.
“In short, the KMT’s party assets are the root of all evil in Taiwan because of the unfair advantage they created. And despite the KMT having pledged to deal with the issue, the pledge was only an empty promise,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said.
The forum, titled “Party assets and corruption,” was organized by the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP) and gathered representatives from opposition parties and experts.
The KMT took over the assets of the Japanese colonial government and countless private businesses and individuals after it fled China and took control of Taiwan, a move many of its detractors have described as outright theft.
The party pledged in 2005 to sell all its assets, which had made it the richest political party in the world. It claims to this day that it placed most of its assets into a trust.
However, the gap between political parties’ financial support remains huge. While the DPP raised about NT$200 million (US$6.7 million) in donations with a month-long “piggy bank” campaign during the last presidential campaign, the KMT made NT$3.5 billion in 2010, including NT$2.9 billion from stock dividends, Lee said.
The KMT earned NT$2.14 billion last year, compared with the DPP’s NT$628 million, according to data released by the Ministry of the Interior.
Those assets have played an important role in the KMT’s dominance in elections at all levels, which is why it has been slow to deal with the issue, Lee said.
The KMT has blocked the legislative proceedings of a draft statute on the disposition of assets improperly obtained by political parties in the legislature more than 250 times and the political party act (政黨法) since 1993, Lee said.
“Not even the KMT knows how much it has in assets … Some say hundreds of billions, while some say trillions,” Taiwan Brain Trust researcher Chen Jin-ji (陳錦稷) said, adding that the party’s tactics to hide its assets have been carefully crafted over the years.
The calculation of the KMT’s total party assets would be extremely difficult and complicated, depending on whether some peripheral groups or organizations, such as the China Youth Corps and the National Women’s League of the Republic of China, are counted, Zero KMT Alliance executive director Lo Cheng-chung (羅承宗) said.
Others said that trying to resolve the ill-gotten assets issue in the legislature would be a waste of time because the KMT has a majority.
Taiwan Referendum Alliance convener Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) said the best way would be a massive protest to force lawmakers to pass the political party act and force the KMT to speed up divesting its assets through a national referendum.
“Expecting the KMT’s goodwill on the issue would be a waste of time because the issue has been there for decades. It takes public pressure and action from the people to get things moving,” Tsai said.