Entertainer Pai Ping-ping (白冰冰), a national policy advisor to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), has been accused of pocketing a NT$25.35 million (US$868,150) government subsidy intended for producing TV variety shows casting veteran entertainers.
A group of veteran entertainers on Tuesday made public their allegation, accusing Pai of diverting most of the sum for producing the variety show Ha Ha Laughing Every Day (天天哈哈笑) into her own pockets.
Pai denied the accusation, saying she received only NT$9 million in subsidies in 2010 from the then-Government Information Office (GIO).
She added that she had put in more than NT$20 million of her own money to produce the shows.
However, her denial met with further accusations from a veteran entertainer who uses the stage name Betty (貝蒂), who on Wednesday accused Pai of lying.
To back her claim, Betty showed GIO documents which suggested the show’s production company in the second season of 2010 received NT$5.85 million from the GIO as the first installment of the subsidy.
The GIO allotted another NT$19.50 million to the production company for the fourth season, totaling the amount of the subsidy at NT$25.35 million, Betty cited the GIO documents as saying.
“The documents showed very clearly that NT$25.35 million went to Pai’s production company,” Betty said. “She is lying to everyone. If she only received NT$9 million, where is the remaining NT$16.35 million?”
“This subsidy was intended to support veteran entertainers. If she did not use the money for that purpose, then it’s a legal problem. This is very serious. We demand that Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) audit the accounting and find where the money went,” she added.
In response, Pai again denied the allegations.
“I swear on my life, I only received NT$9 milliion [in subsidies]. If someone has evidence [of me receiving more money], then show it to everyone,” she said.
Appearing unconvinced by Pai’s denial, veteran entertainer Kuo Mei-chu (郭美珠) said: “Pai has in the past vilified [former premier] Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) with the spiteful denunciation that ‘You are not a good person, nor a bad person, you are not a human being at all (你不是好人, 也不是壞人, 你根本不是人).’ Now I want give these words back to her.”
Kuo was referring to remarks made by Pai in 1997 in which Hsieh earned Pai’s unrelenting hatred for having then served as a negotiator during a siege by Chen Chin-hsing (陳進興), the murderer of Pai’s daughter, at the then-South African military attache’s house.
“Pai is a greedy money-grubber,” Kuo said. “In her eyes, only money matters. She used to support the pan-green camp, but she found out that by supporting the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) she can ride the gravy train to get plenty of financial benefits, so she switched her alliance to the KMT.”
“Pai once told me: ‘You go ask [the Democratic Progressive Party’s 2012 presidential candidate] Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to give me NT$200 million. Then I will change my support to the pan-green camp,’” Kuo added.
When reached for comment on Kuo’s remarks, Pai’s assistant said she would not make any response.
The 120-episodes of Ha Ha Laughing Every Day were broadcast on weekdays at noon, starting on June 14, 2010, and ended on Nov. 29 the same year.
When the show was terminated, Pai initially said it was because the production had already exceeded the NT$20 million cost and that the GIO had no further subsidy for it.
She later said the first season’s funding came from the GIO and that she had to seek private funding on her own for the show’s second season.
Huang Hsiuh (黃秀), section head at the Ministry of Culture’s Radio and Television Affairs Department, said she did not know the details.
Since the GIO was dissolved this year, there have been many changes in personnel and lots of documents were not handed over, so it would take some time to go through the files for information, she said.