Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said a final ruling against senior Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) and Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) in the Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar) case earlier this month was “wrong” and that he would leave politics if the duo were found to have broken the law.
“I would like to defend their innocence with my political career. I believe they are innocent and actually there is no basis to say they violated the law,” Lai told a press conference.
The Taichung Branch of the Taiwan High Court on March 13 upheld the original conviction and handed Wu a prison term of three years, 10 months and Hong a two-year, four-month term.
Wu, who was chairman of Taisugar in 2003, was accused of giving in to Hong’s lobbying for Chun Lung Co, a property development firm, to ensure that it won the right to purchase a plot of land it was renting from Taisugar in an industrial park in Greater Taichung’s Wufeng District (霧峰).
The court ruled that Wu had violated Taisugar’s rental-only policy on its properties. Wu and Hong both argued that the origin of the policy — the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ regulation of state-owned enterprises’ public land leases and superficies — was abolished on March 28, 2001.
Hong had said that Taisugar had also enacted an internal regulation on property sales in May 2000, adding that the abolition and enactment of related regulations occurred before Wu’s chairmanship.
Taisugar sold the property in 2004, but Wu had already left the Taisugar chairman post in 2003, Lai said.
“How could the deal be related to Wu and Hong?” Lai asked.
Former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) said Wu left Taisugar on Dec. 30, 2003, and the company sold the property on Aug. 24, 2004.
“Mr A sold the property, but the court decided to jail Mr B instead,” Lin said.
Lin asked why prosecutors and judges were focusing on Wu and Hong, as they had not broken the law.