The Presidential Office yesterday said that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) integrity remains intact, while dismissing criticisms made over the income increase awarded to Ma. It has been reported that Ma’s savings have increased by NT$3.8 million (US$130,000) over the last eight months.
The Control Yuan on Thursday unveiled the latest report on government officials’ properties which were declared in July. The report showed that Ma has bank savings totaling more than NT$77.6 million — an increase of NT$3.8 million compared to the figure given in November last year.
Ma declared ownership of properties including five plots of land, four buildings, as well as private funds worth NT$150,000 and NT$710,000 in stocks.
The information sparked criticism from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, who accused Ma of saving an average of NT$480,000 every month while pocketing a monthly salary of NT$470,000.
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said the NT$3.8 million increase in savings included the monthly salaries of Ma and first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青), Ma’s year-end bonus and interests accrued on his savings account.
“President Ma has insisted on his integrity and leads a simple life. ... He has been following regulations and has declared all his property,” he said, urging the opposition camp not to mislead the public with false accusations.
While insisting on his integrity, Ma yesterday also called on the administrative branch to avoid wasting resources by giving out Mid-Autumn Festival presents.
Fan Chiang said while it is a custom to send gifts during the festival, the administrative branch should take extra caution while handing out presents as expensive items may send out the wrong signals.
The National Security Bureau and National Palace Museum were both criticized this week for gift baskets they sent containing imported grapes worth between NT$1,000 and NT$2,000 a box.
The gifts prepared by the Presidential Office were mooncakes made by disadvantaged groups.
“President Ma has instructed the administrative branch to reflect upon the issue and prepare gifts that are locally produced and are not too expensive,” he said.