The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) should be held accountable for an amendment that decriminalizes the involvement of elected officials, professors and staff at colleges and academic institutions involved in irregularities in the use of public funds, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said yesterday.
The public has criticized the DPP for being an “accomplice” in the passage of an amendment to the Accounting Act (會計法) in the legislature at midnight on Friday, with Ker singled out by fellow DPP lawmakers for “unilaterally offering the DPP’s endorsement without the consent of the entire caucus.”
“Everyone should understand that the amendment was submitted by the KMT because a number of high-ranking KMT officials, including Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), were involved in misuse of public funds,” Ker told a press conference.
The amendment’s passage has been described by critics as a “midnight ambush.”
The legislation would exonerate former independent legislator and Taichung County Council speaker Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), who is serving a three-and-a-half-year prison term for misusing public funds and other councilors facing similar charges.
It would also clear about 700 university professors, including National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who are under investigation for misusing receipts to claim government reimbursements.
Although the public has criticized all four parties that endorsed the initiative in a closed-door negotiation for Yen’s imminent release, most of the criticism has fallen on the DPP.
The DPP’s priority was to help professors and other academics, but “politics is always about making compromises,” which was why local councilors were also included in the amendment, Ker said.
Ker said he raised the issue of the decriminalizing the misuse presidential state funds, which would apply to former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) involvement in a corruption case, but the KMT lawmakers had turned down the idea.
“I don’t know why the KMT, the ruling party with a legislative majority, suddenly seems to have vanished from the public’s view and everyone is talking about holding the DPP accountable,” he added.
He denied that he made the decision to back the amendment unilaterally, saying he had discussed it with other DPP lawmakers in the caucus meeting on Friday morning and no one had voiced opposition at the time.
DPP Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟), who has been the most prominent critic of Ker’s actions on the vote, said he was not at the caucus meeting.