Vice President and Acting Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday said that there is no single asset the party owns that it obtained improperly, dismissing longstanding allegations of improper ownership.
Accusations that party assets worth NT$70 billion (US$2.2 billion) have gone unaccounted for over the past 13 years and that there might be irregularities involved in their handling were “false and baseless,” Wu said.
He made the remarks after KMT Deputy Secretary-General Lin Te-jui (林德瑞) yesterday presented a report on the status of the party’s assets at a meeting of the Central Standing Committee.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
Wu scheduled the meeting after New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) — the only candidate in the party’s chairmanship election — said when he declared his candidacy that the party “must return any ill-gotten assets to the nation.”
According to Lin’s report, the value of the real estate — including 147 pieces of land and 152 buildings — that the KMT owns is about NT$1 billion, calculated on the basis of assessed value as opposed to market prices, which are usually much higher. The report adds that the party’s assets in the form of enterprises, including Central Investment Co (中央投資公司) and Hsinyutai Co (欣裕台股份有限公司), are valued at NT$23.226 billion.
The KMT’s assets dwindled from NT$62.8 billion in 2000 to NT$23.3 billion in 2006 as a result of investment losses, Lin said.
Lin added that before 2000, the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and 1998 had already taken a toll on the KMT’s assets, with the party providing funds to assist the government in bailing out businesses.
Critics have labeled the KMT’s assets “ill-gotten” because the party took them from the Japanese colonial government, private businesses and individuals when it took control of Taiwan in the late 1940s.
Wu said the description of “ill-gotten assets” was incorrect because all the KTM’s assets were acquired through legal means.
“There is not a single piece of property the party owns that was obtained improperly,” Wu said.
In the face of doubts surrounding the assets’ legitimacy, “the KMT has held itself to a high moral standard” by offering “rewards” to their original owners, Wu said.
Lin said the KMT has offered rewards for 99 percent of its assets.
Meanwhile, Wu said that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who resigned as chairman early last month following the party’s loss in the Nov. 29 nine-in-one elections last year, never promised that he would “return the party’s assets to zero.”
What Ma vowed was to dispose of its enterprises, Lin said, adding that the ruling party has not operated for-profit corporations since 2007 and the enterprises that it used to run have been placed into a trust.
During Ma’s tenure as chairman, the KMT attempted to sell the enterprises via public auctions five times, but the process was stalled for various reasons, Lin said.
“We were not happy with the result either,” Lin said.
Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) challenged the KMT to explain the legitimacy of its assets in detail.
“The KMT did not bring any land or buildings when it fled to Taiwan in 1949, but it now owns massive real-estate holdings. It should specify how it legally acquired these assets,” Huang said.
For example, the Supreme Court in August last year ruled that the Broadcasting Corp of China’s (中廣) ownership claim over a 5,000-ping (1.65 hectares) plot of land in New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋) violated the National Property Act (國有財產法) and that registration must therefore be returned to the nation — its rightful owner, Huang said.
When Ma became KMT chairman he said at his inauguration that the party would settle the assets issue by 2008, Huang said.
The issue could be resolved through the enactment of a political party act and a statute on the disposition of assets improperly obtained by political parties, he said.
A draft of the act has been stalled in the legislature for years.
If Chu becomes KMT chairman, forcing KMT lawmakers to push the stalled legislation through would prove that he is the reformer he has touted himself to be, but if he does not, then he would show that he is just another Ma Ying-jeou, Huang added.
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