DPP promises to pass political donations bill

`SUNSHINE LAW': President Chen Shui-bian said the party wants the proposed law governing donations to political parties voted upon by the end of the month

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Feb 11, 2004 - Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday pledged to pass a law governing political donations (政治獻金法) by the end of this month to resolve long-standing controversies over political donations.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) made the vow during yesterday's meeting of the DPP's Central Standing Committee.

While the party has made the proposed law a legislative priority, Chen also urged the passage of two other "sunshine" bills -- the political party bill and the lobbying bill.

According to a statement by Chen that was read to reporters after the meeting, "the DPP will do its best to complete the legislation of the political donation bill within the shortest time.

"If the law can't be passed before the March 20 election, all DPP members, including myself, will allow for public oversight [on donations] by observing the regulations on political donations based on the Cabinet's current version of the political donation bill," Chen's statement said.

DPP Legislator Lo Wen-chia (羅文嘉) also stressed the party's firm determination to pass the donation bill regardless of which version of the bill is supported by the ruling and opposition parties.

"One law [on political donations] passed is better than nothing. Now is the moment of truth for the donation bill to be passed," Lo said.

Lo said legislation governing political donations has been discussed for more than a decade, but has always been held back as it would have a tremendous impact on politicians who would be forced to reveal details of all the donations they receive.

DPP Legislator Eugene Jao (趙永清), leader of the legislative inter-party negotiations on the donation bill, yesterday urged the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) to immediately clarify their attitude to the proposed law.

Jao urged opposition lawmakers to cooperate with the review process in order to accelerate the passage of the bill.

In related news, DPP campaign spokesperson Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) yesterday denied pan-blue allegations that the administration tried to profit by selling Tuntex Petrochemicals, owned by fugitive Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪), at below-market prices.

Wu said no one wanted to buy the company last year when it was first auctioned with a reserve price of NT$9.3 per share.

The market value was NT$24 a share.

"As far as I know, no one in the green camp has the ability to buy the company's shares," Wu said.

"Please don't ignore the fact that the only reason the company's shares were up for sale was because Chen Yu-hao had mortgaged them to the banks," Wu said. "Since he never paid interest to the banks, the banks had to sell their shares to cover the debt."

Meanwhile, Lo said the impact of Chen Yu-hao's accusations on the DPP's electoral prospects was negated after the president's clear explanation rebuffing the charges of illegal connections with the tycoon.

Lo said saying the DPP's presidential ticket is leading its rival by 0.9 percent support.