Wed, Aug 10, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Koo to head new assets commission

EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENT:The lawyer and judicial reform activist will have to give up his legislator-at-large seat, but said he felt he could not say no to the job

By Tzou Jiing-wen and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wellington Koo presents a joint statement in support of Chinese human rights lawyers at a press conference in Taipei on Monday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wellington Koo (顧立雄) yesterday confirmed that he has agreed to head the Executive Yuan’s commission to handle the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) ill-gotten assets.

The commission is to be set up under the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations (政黨及其附隨組織不當取得財產處理條例), which was passed by the legislature late last month in a vote that was split along party lines.

According to the act, the premier is to appoint 11 to 13 members of the commission, who will be charged with investigating, retroactively confiscating and returning or restoring to rightful owners all assets that were improperly obtained by the KMT and affiliated organizations since Aug. 15, 1945 — when Japan officially announced its surrender to the Allies, bringing World War II to an end.

Koo said he had not anticipated the appointment and had planned to push for several judicial, narcotics and prison reform bills in the legislature, but President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Premier Lin Chuan (林全) had expressed their wishes for him to accept it.

“I can only tell you at this time that they said I was the right man for the job. When called on to shoulder such great responsibilities, there is no room for me to say no,” he said.

A commission to deal with illegitimately obtained party properties is “crucial to transitional justice, fair play between the political parties and deepening the nation’s democratization,” he added.

Koo said that as a lawmaker, he had worked hard to help draft the ill-gotten party properties law, and the legislation and the commission tasked with implementing the law were “unprecedented challenges for which it is impossible to ask others for guidance.”

The KMT should “let go of the party assets that are a hindrance to its rebirth,” Koo said, promising to carry out his new job “correctly and within the confines of the law.”

Koo was formerly a partner at Formosa Transnational Attorneys at Law and has served as director of the Taipei Bar Association, chairman of the Judicial Reform Foundation and chairman of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights.

Sources said that the Presidential Office and the Cabinet believe that Koo’s “mastery of the law, personal integrity and work ethic” would be important qualities for overseeing the effort to recover the private and public assets that the KMT is accused of having obtained during its years of authoritarian rule in Taiwan.

Koo will have to give up his legislator-at-large seat, as the Constitution bars serving lawmakers from concurrently holding a government post.

He will be replaced by former DPP legislator Julian Kuo (郭正亮), whose name was on the DPP legislator-at-large ballot in the Jan. 16 elections immediately after Koo’s.

However, Kuo’s return to the legislature could renew questions about his arrest in February on a drunk driving charge.

Additional reporting by Yang Chun-hui and CNA

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