Acknowledging his office's mishandling of the special mayoral allowance, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday apologized for what he called "administrative defects," adding that he would not resign over the matter.
"Although I knew nothing about it and so far there is no evidence to prove [my staffer] pocketed the money, I still need to shoulder administrative, political and moral responsibility for this blemish ... I offer my sincere apologies to Taipei residents," Ma told a press conference at Taipei City Hall.
Yu Wen (余文), a Taipei City staffer who handled reimbursements for the allowance, was found by the city government last month to have substituted receipts for smaller amounts with personal receipts for larger amounts in a bid to reduce his paperwork.
In an attempt to simplify the reimbursement procedure for amounts ranging between NT$10,000 and NT$20,000 -- usually between 50 and 100 receipts each month -- Yu substituted his own receipts for larger amounts for several of the smaller ones, Taipei City Government Secretariat Director Lee Sush-der(李述德) said.
This was not discovered until prosecutors began investigating Ma's use of the special fund, and as a result 3,754 receipts, totaling around NT$800,000, had been "exchanged" in this way since 2003, Lee added.
Ma acknowledged that the case had damaged both his and the city government's reputations and denied shifting the responsibility onto Yu, while saying that he did not need to resign over the matter.
"We did not shift the responsibility onto him to save ourselves. It's the truth, and the prosecutors are investigating the case now ? I don't think that I should resign because I wasn't directly involved in the matter," he said.
Director of the mayor's office Cheng An-kuo (鄭安國), who supervised the allowance reimbursements, offered his resignation yesterday. This was later approved by Ma.
"The situation began before I arrived at the city government, but I did not discover it and failed to prevent it from having such a big impact on both Mayor Ma and the city government. I feel very sorry and I need to take responsibility for this," Cheng told the media.
Yu, on the other hand, was questioned by prosecutors yesterday after the city government's department of government ethics reported Yu's case to prosecutors on Tuesday.
According to Lee, the government ethics department found all of the original receipts in the basement of the city government and the internal investigation found no evidence that Yu had pocketed any of the money.
The government regulations state that half of the mayor's monthly NT$340,000 allowance requires no receipts, while the other half requires receipts for reimbursement.
Of the NT$170,000 portion of the allowance that required receipts, about NT$80,000 was used for rewarding staff members, and another NT$90,000 was spent on public affairs matters.
Ma said his secretaries, drivers and bodyguards received most of the rewards.
Asked to compare this situation with the alleged use of fake receipts to claim reimbursement from the president's "state allowance fund," Ma said while the president and the first lady collected receipts to cover their own expenses, in the city government's case it was only a procedural blemish.
In response to questions from DPP legislators on the amount of money spent on red envelopes for parties and white envelopes for funerals, Cheng said that in addition to the money paid out for the envelopes, there were other related expenses such as flowers and postage.
Cheng dismissed allegations that Ma had used the allowance for his personal living expenses.
Some of the allowance was used to pay for breakfast for Ma's bodyguards and drivers, who usually get up very early to pick the mayor up from his house, he added.
Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen (
Another 10 people, including Taipei officials and others were also questioned.
"The eleven were released after questioning," Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office spokesman Chang Wen-cheng (
Prosecutors said Yu, however, had been barred from leaving the country.
Additional reporting by Rich Chang
also see story:
Editorial: Different rules for different folks
IF THE CHIPS ARE DOWN: The US secretary of state warned that a disruption to the supply of Taiwanese semiconductors would play havoc with the global economy If Taiwan were attacked, the global economy would face devastation, as that is where most of the world’s semiconductors are produced, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday. In an interview that aired on the 60 Minutes television program, Blinken was asked whether instability across the Taiwan Strait would be felt around the world. Blinken said that China has been increasingly aggressive against Taiwan, posing a threat to peace and stability in the region, while economically the world would feel the effects of such aggression. Blinken was interviewed for the program after meeting with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi
‘ABSURD’: UN Resolution 2758 expelled the Chiang Kai-Shek government without mentioning Taipei, something the Chinese minister did not acknowledge, Taipei said Taiwan yesterday criticized Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) for “intentionally misinterpreting” a 1971 UN resolution to misrepresent Taiwan’s status to the global community. In his address on Saturday to the UN General Assembly, Wang cited Resolution 2758 as a basis for Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China. He said that Beijing considers Taiwan an “inseparable part of China’s territory since ancient times.” “Only when China is completely reunified can there be enduring peace across the Taiwan Strait... Any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history,” Wang said. General Assembly Resolution 2758
MORE ARRIVALS ALLOWED: Taiwan yesterday increased its cap on arrivals to 60,000 from 50,000 ahead of a full border opening with a weekly cap of 150,000 on Oct. 13 Travelers arriving in Taiwan from Oct. 13 would no longer be required to quarantine on arrival and visitors of all nationalities would be allowed to enter, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced yesterday. However, the number of arrivals would be capped at 150,000 per week, he added. Travelers aged two or older would be given four rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits on arrival and be asked to monitor their health for seven days, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference. Under the new arrival protocol, travelers would have to take a test on the day of arrival or the day after, followed
The UK is determined to work with its allies to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself, British Prime Minister Liz Truss said on Sunday, a pledge that drew expressions of gratitude from Taipei. “What I’ve been clear about is that all of our allies need to make sure Taiwan is able to defend itself, and that is very, very important,” Truss said in a CNN interview, when asked whether the UK was willing to match the US’ pledge last week to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an attack by China. Truss said her government was working with its G7 allies,