The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office has filed a motion to detain independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) and former New Power Party chairman Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) over their alleged involvement in a department store bribery case after they were released on bail.
Three other legislators — Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) of the Democratic Progressive Party — as well as former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung (李恆隆) spent their second day at the Taipei Detention Center in New Taipei’s Toucheng District (土城) yesterday while their lawyers sought to have them released on bail.
Lee is the central figure in litigation over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store, which was allegedly why he bribed lawmakers.
Su’s office director, Yu Hsueh-yang (余學洋); Sufin’s office director, Ting Fu-hua (丁復華); and Kuo Ke-ming (郭克銘), a political lobbyist and general manager of Knowledge International Consultancy are also being held at the center as suspects in the corruption probe.
Media reports yesterday quoted sources as saying that Lee spent more than NT$160 million (US$5.42 million at the current exchange rate) in bribes and other payments over the years, adding that other legislators, aides and officials could be implicated as the investigation continues.
The investigation has shown that Lee provided NT$40 million, mostly to legislators, in a bid to have the Company Act (公司法) amended, and to lobby lawmakers to pressure the Ministry of Economic Affairs and other officials to help him wrest back control of Pacific Sogo from Far Eastern Group chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東).
Prosecutors said that they have built solid cases against Chao and Hsu and seek to have them rearrested — Chao had been released on a NT$1 million bail and Hsu on NT$800,000 — to prevent them from fleeing, destroying evidence or colluding with people involved.
A statement released by the DPP after a meeting of its Central Standing Committee quoted President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who is also party chairperson, as saying: “It is my expectation for party members to work together on draft bills and amendments. However, we must not allow any special interest groups to get a hand in and influence the process. As the ruling party, we cannot evade this responsibility.”
“Through a recent investigation, we have found that some of our party members are embroiled in this case. It has done serious damage to our party and violated our party’s rules on clean ethics. Therefore the party’s Central Disciplinary Committee has decided to suspend the members’ privileges,” Tsai said.
“It is tough to establish a reputation as a clean and honesty party, but is easy to destroy it. We have members sitting here who remember damage from the last time that we were the ruling party,” she said. “Therefore I want to remind everyone that the DPP cannot repeat these past troubles, but must learn and grow from past lessons.”
Referring to a discussion with the Cabinet and other officials about not treating government jobs as a fast-track to wealth, Tsai said: “Those words were not just to remind us, but to serve as a stringent warning. If we are not aware of this, then it will be a difficult challenge for us to retain power in the 2024 elections.”
Taiwan’s future is dependent on the DPP’s leadership as the ruling party, she said.
“If the party cannot hold on to its majority by staying within clean, honest ethics, then it could hurt Taiwan’s identity and national sovereignty,” Tsai said.
“If that happens, then it will be the total undoing of all our past endeavors and achievements,” she added.
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