The Control Yuan has upheld a decision made nearly four decades ago to impeach Ho Feng-shan (何鳳山), also known as “China’s Schindler” — for mishandling public funds.
The finding represents a setback for Ho’s two children — Man-to (何曼德) and Man-li (何曼禮) — who have fought in recent years to clear their father’s name.
They had asked the Control Yuan to revisit the case, hoping that it would revoke the impeachment for improperly handling funds while serving as ambassador to Colombia in the early 1970s.
There was no immediate reaction to the decision from either of Ho’s children, who live in the US. Ho died in San Francisco in 1997 at the age of 96.
Control Yuan members Li Bing-nan (李炳南) and Ma Shiow-ru (馬秀如) spent a year and a half going through files and documents before reaching a decision.
Li said they were convinced by a previously unreleased letter produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Ho’s handling of public funds and private money had been “flawed.”
The letter, sent by Ho’s former colleague, Ting Wei-tsu (丁慰慈), to the foreign minister in 2000, is “highly credible” given its detailed account, Li said.
Li and Ma believed that Ting had no reason to lie because at the time, Ting had retired from the foreign service and Ho had passed away.
It was after reading the letter that he and Ma believed the Control Yuan made the right decision to impeach Ho, Li said.
The case surfaced after a member of Ho’s staff in Colombia reported to the ministry that Ho had filed false receipts and embezzled public funds.
Ho was subsequently impeached and suspended for three years. He was denied a pension when he retired after his posting in Colombia and took up residence in San Francisco.
The Control Yuan report identified several instances where Ho may have handled funds improperly, but the only specific amount identified as being embezzled by Ho was US$427.29 — which he received after presenting fake receipts for liquor purchases.
While supporting the Control Yuan’s 1975 decision, Li and Ma faulted the process that led to Ho’s impeachment.
The ministry claimed at the time that Ho had been given the opportunity to explain himself, but that was not the case, Li said.
“There was an administrative flaw in the foreign ministry’s handling of the case,” he said.
Ho became known posthumously outside Taiwan’s diplomatic circle thanks to Schindler’s List, a Steven Spielberg movie that won seven Academy Awards.
Like Oscar Schindler, the protagonist of the 1993 movie, Ho took a personal risk to help save hundreds — perhaps thousands — of Jews facing Nazi persecution.
While serving as Republic of China (ROC) consul-general in Vienna, Austria, in the late 1930s, Ho issued visas for Austrian Jews to make their way to safety in Shanghai, in defiance of an order given by the ROC ambassador in Berlin.
Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany on March 12, 1938. It is known that Ho signed his 1,906th visa on Oct. 27, 1938, and continued to issue visas to Jews until he was ordered to return to the ROC in May 1940.
In 2001, Ho was awarded the title “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.