Legislators yesterday criticized a governmental organization for failing to replace its members, calling it an attempt by former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to maintain a platform for working on cross-strait ties for his own purposes.
The General Association of Chinese Culture (GACC) is to hold a committee meeting next week at which Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators have called for the immediate induction of the 624 new members chosen by President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration.
DPP legislators Wang Ding-yu (王定宇), Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘), Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) and Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that the meeting is required to prevent the association from moving in a direction at odds with the government’s goals and policies.
The four lawmakers said that Ma might be trying to maintain his influence over the association to use it for his own cross-strait interactions.
New association members were prevented from joining the group at its last meeting due to the deliberate absence of current members, Wang said.
Wang accused GACC’s president, former premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) — who was appointed to head the association by Ma — of not demonstrating a willingness to retire, despite promising to do so.
Liu has previously said that the association is a non-governmental group and that he raised money to fund the its activities without assistance from the government.
Wang said Ma himself contradicted that view.
“The General Association of Chinese Culture is a non-governmental organization whose presidency is the part-time occupation of the nation’s president. It is also one of the very few part-time occupations of the nation’s president,” Wang quoted Ma as saying on Nov. 27, 2008.
Ma’s statement contradicts the notion that the organization is independent of the government, Wang said.
Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) handed the association over to the Ma administration according to legal procedure when he left office in 2008, Wang said.
“Why does the GACC not want members of the new government to join?” Wang said. “Who is the ‘Kagemusha’ trying to make the association private?”
‘Kagemusha’ is a character in a Japanese movie whose name is used to denote a political decoy.
The need for a cross-strait relations platform clearly exists after the meeting between Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Wang said.
Chuang said the association met formally with the president on four occasions during Ma’s administration.
“What kind of non-government organization gets an audience with the president?” Chuang asked.
“The KMT’s National Policy Foundation is enough, there is no need for it to continue occupying the GACC, using the old channels of cross-strait exchanges,” he said.
Chen Chi-mai said that about NT$100 million (US$3.12 million) was spent on the GACC by the government over the course of Ma’s two terms, citing a biannual presidential award.
“If the GACC is not returned to the government, should we change the name of the award to the ‘former presidential award?’” the DPP lawmaker said.
“If Ma refuses to hand back the GACC, could it be that he wants to use it as a mouthpiece,” Chen Chi-mai said.
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