Tue, Sep 05, 2017 - Page 3 News List

MOFA asks for league funding despite criticism

By Lu Yi-hsuan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is to continue funding Cold War-era anti-communist non-governmental organizations (NGOs), despite criticism last year by pan-green lawmakers that the plan was obsolete and wasteful.

According to the ministry’s latest budget proposal to the legislature, it is requesting NT$26.57 billion (US$882.7 million) for next year, or an increase of NT$2.2 billion from this year.

A large part of the increase, or NT$1.3 billion, would be for “classified” diplomatic spending.

Nearly NT$22 million would go to the World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD, NT$18 million) and the Asian Pacific League for Freedom and Democracy (APLFD, NT$4 million), the proposed budget showed.

Last year, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and New Power Party (NPP) lawmakers tried to defund the two leagues, calling them Cold War-era relics of dubious relevance and sinecures for retired Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) elders.

The lawmakers included the DPP’s Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應), Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) and Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳), as well as the NPP’s Freddy Lim (林昶佐).

At the time, the lawmakers said the two leagues spent a majority of their budgets on personnel costs rather than purpose-related expenses, which were a waste of money.

The legislature eventually passed a reduced budget for the two organizations, after behind-the-scenes maneuvers by KMT Vice Chairman Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), who is also the WLFD vice president, and DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

WLFD president Yao Eng-chi (饒穎奇) last year became the subject of public controversy after he was seen on video attending a communist-organized event in China and standing in deference to the Chinese national anthem.

The fact that the WLFD’s president and vice president are “bigwigs” in the KMT shows that the organization is “not a fair or neutral group,” Liu said.

The two leagues are “shelter organizations for has-been politicians,” she added.

They have little public accountability or oversight and their funding should be discontinued unless they change their staffing by recruiting “neutral” professionals with credentials in international affairs, she said.

Tsai said it is inappropriate for the ministry to allocate specific budgets to NGOs like the two.

“Dedicated budget items are a form of guaranteed subsidies. As the WLFD and the APLFD are not governmental organizations and have no publicly appointed managers, they should not be given preferential treatment,” Tsai said.

“For the government to dedicate budget items to specific organizations is to imply responsibility over them. Having such an arrangement [with the two leagues] is unreasonable,” he said.

Instead, the ministry should fund the two leagues through regular channels for NGOs, Tsai added.

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