Allegations that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his campaign team received an off-the-books political donation from Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團) continued yesterday as media personality Clara Chou (周玉蔻), in a new revelation, accused the Ma administration of being Ting Hsin’s gatekeeper and identifying Ma himself as the person who had received a NT$200 million (US$6.34 million) donation from the company.
Chou said Ma had received the secret donation from Ting Hsin through a confidant and took it to be within legal boundaries for campaign fund-raising.
He might have thought that as the money was used solely for campaign activities and did not end up in his pocket, it was not corruption, Chou said, but added that the move showed seriously flawed moral integrity.
Chou wrote an open letter to Ma on Facebook on Monday, naming Benny Hu (胡定吾), Ma’s friend and a board member of Taipei Financial Center Corp (TFCC, 台北金融大樓), the firm that operates Taipei 101, as a key person involved in the donation, suggesting that the president have a “long conversation” with him.
Later the same day, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) filed a lawsuit against Chou for claiming that the KMT received a secret NT$200 million donation from Ting Hsin.
The Presidential Office late on Monday evening released a statement denying the accusations and demanding that Chou provide proof rather than making allegations, saying it suspected that Chou used the term “Ma’s team” to shun legal responsibility.
Photo: Chang Hsiao-Ti, Taipei Times
In response, Chou published an article yesterday directly identifying “Ma’s team” with the president himself.
“Hu is the top aide of the Wei (魏) family, which owns Ting Hsin; Ma is Hu’s guardian angel [“men shen (門神)”]; the Ma administration then became Ting Hsin’s gatekeeper,” Chou said in the article.
She said that according to a “reliable source,” Ma knew about the donation and that Hu was the go-between for Ma and Ting Hsin who wore “white gloves” — referring to a middleman who launders money behind a legitimate front, trusted by both parties.
She also accused Ma, the head of the team, of receiving the clandestine donation.
In the article, Chou said that Ma once said “the money was for the election; it was public expenditure, not corruption.”
However, this was self-hypnosis, Chou said, adding that Ma’s team was referring to Ma himself, and that Ma believed that if both Ting Hsin and those within his team denied a donation had been received nothing could be exposed.
Chou called Monday’s Presidential Office statement “dodgy” and talk of investigating in accordance with the law without mercy “empty talk and self-deception” if Ma does not initiate an investigation.
“How do you investigate in accordance with the law when neither the president nor the judicial system have done anything?” she said, calling on Ma to explain the matter and take the initiative to begin an investigation.
“As far as I know, these off-the-books donations have firewalls built in” that make them beyond legal reach, Chou said.
Chou said she was questioning Ma’s “moral integrity” and called on the president to clarify the issue.
Later yesterday, Presidential Office spokesperson Ma Wei-kuo (馬瑋國), in response to Chou’s new allegations, accused her of “distorting the facts and making malign accusations,” and said that while the president has always respected freedom of speech, it is regretful that Chou has continued to defame the president with false allegations.
The president would not exclude the possibility of taking legal action to defend the reputation of his office, the spokesperson said.
Additional reporting by Wang Yu-chung
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit