Amid kickback allegations against former Taipei EasyCard chairman Sean Lien (連勝文) over his business ties with Ting Hsin International Group, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has remained quiet over reports it called for Lien to move out of his apartment complex in a move to prevent his wealthy background from affecting his bid to become Taipei mayor.
Lien, son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), said he bought Taiwan depositary receipts (TDRs) from the group’s subsidiary company, Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corp (康師傅控股) in 2009 and denied that the refund of a NT$18,000 handling fee was a kickback from group chairman Wei Ying-chung (魏應充).
The TDR scandal and earlier stories about his sister Lien Hui-hsin’s (連惠心) investment in a nutrition supplement company that sold weight-loss products containing unauthorized drugs have reportedly led to concerns within the KMT about the negative impact his and his family’s wealth, and political and business connections might have on the election outcome if he is chosen as the party’s candidate.
Leading KMT officials reportedly suggested that Sean Lien should move out of his residence in The Palace (帝寶), a luxury apartment complex on Renai Road in Taipei City, in a bid to avoid suffering at the ballot box because of his wealthy background.
The 43-year-old Lien will face competition within the KMT if he decides to put his name forward for the nomination.
So far, four politicians have declared their intention to join the KMT race: legislators Alex Tsai (蔡正元) and Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), and Taipei City councilors Yang Shi-chiu (楊實秋) and Chin Hui-chu (秦慧珠).
KMT spokesman Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) yesterday dismissed reports that it had spoken to Sean Lien and said that the KMT will finalize its candidates for next year’s seven-in-one elections through primaries or negotiations.
He also brushed aside questions about whether President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) problematic relationship with the Lien family had led to the president preferring Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) over Sean Lien in the Taipei race.
“There are no preferred candidates for the elections. The KMT has a primary mechanism and will use the mechanism to finalize candidates,” Yang said.
In related news, Yang yesterday defended the legitimacy of the KMT’s handling of political donations amid allegations that Wei had donated NT$5.2 million to the party in support of KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) when she was running in the Kaohsiung mayoral election.
The amount exceeded the NT$3 million annual limit for political donations from any private business to a political party.
Yang said the KMT has handled its political donations in accordance with the law, and added that the amount of money it has received was reported to the authorities and is now on public record.