Fri, Jul 20, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ma politicizing indictment: experts

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Former president Ma Ying-jeou, left, confers with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih on Wednesday in Taipei.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Politicians and legal experts yesterday criticized former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), saying that he is trying to whitewash his role in the sales of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) assets and accusing him of trying to use the case to pave the way for a presidential bid in 2020.

They made the remarks after Ma on Wednesday told the KMT Central Standing Committee that the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office’s indictment against him regarding the sales of Central Motion Picture Corp (中影), Broadcasting Corp of China (中廣) and China Television Co (中視) were politically motivated.

Ma was invited to explain his handling of the disposal of the party’s media outlets in 2005 and 2006 while he was party chairman, and to clear up contentious aspects of the indictment issued last week, New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said.

“However, Ma put on a political show and pretended that he was innocent,” Hsu said. “He did not deal with any of the allegations of financial impropriety, nor did he clarify suspicions that he made secret deals and undersold party assets.”

“The talk was a charade, since Ma did not explain anything about the case. He used the occasion to rally support from top KMT officials and to show that the party is behind him as he plots the course to run in 2020,” Hsu added.

After Ma’s address, several top KMT officials voiced their support, saying that they did not believe Ma had broken the law, Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) said.

“That was because many KMT officials were accomplices in the crime. They benefited financially, which was why party officials helped Ma obscure negotiation and transaction details,” Wang said.

Ma wanted to use the address to apply political pressure on prosecutors in a bid to influence the outcome of the case, attorney Chou Wu-jung (周武榮) said.

Prosecutors charged Ma and two others with breach of trust and contravening the Securities and Exchange Act (證券交易法).

Wang Hai-ching (汪海清), former general manager of KMT-controlled Central Investment Co (中央投資公司), and former company chairman Chang Che-chen (張哲琛) were also indicted after providing key testimony in the case.

As Wang Hai-ching and Chang are still party members, Ma was apparently trying to use his address to the committee to pressure the two into changing their testimony, Chou said.

Prosecutors deemed that Ma had sold the media companies at below-market prices at financial loss to the party, attorney Chang Li-yeh (張立業) said.

Ma, Wang Hai-ching and Chang Che-chen were the principal figures in the case, as they managed the KMT’s finances and used an elaborate scheme to sell the three companies and other assets at below-market prices, leading to losses of NT$7.29 billion (US$237.99 million at the current exchange rate) for the party, the indictment said.

“During Ma’s address, he said he did not undersell party assets, and that all decisions were made based on his judgement of what was best for the party. If KMT officials endorse this viewpoint, then it would be quite favorable for Ma’s case,” Chang Li-yeh said.

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