Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ma Resignation Rejected, KMT changes the Rules, BBC Reports

The BBC also has an article on Ma Ying-jeou's fall from grace:

"Ma Ying-jeou is suspected of misappropriating ... special funds, which do not require documentation for reimbursement," the high court prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The investigation into his finances began in mid-November after allegations that he had shifted money from a special fund into a personal account during his time as mayor, from 1998 to 2006.

A spokesman added that Mr Ma's explanations for the movement of funds had been contradictory.

If convicted, he would face at least seven years in prison. However, prosecutors have already asked for leniency because of his co-operation with the investigation.

Observe that this article merely repeats what Ma and the prosecutors say and offers no attempt to dig deeper. It does not put the prosecutor's request for leniency in the context of the fact that the Ma was a witness at the prosecutor's wedding. Context is often impaired in the international media due to the exigencies of time and space, but the BBC's accounts make a special habit of eliminating key context (here's why!).

Yesterday's news reported that Ma had resigned as Chairman, but today the Taiwan News is reporting that the KMT Central Standing Committee rejected his resignation. They have also amended the party rules, which prohibited indicted individuals to run for president, to permit Ma to run as the KMT candidate. Ma's lawyer has conceded that Ma misappropriated funds, but claims that it was done from ignorance:

At yesterday's press conference, Ma's attorney Song Yao-ming said his client is innocent of the embezzlement charges because he did not have any intent to commit the crime. Song contended that the prosecutor's indictment of Ma was based on "subjective interpretation" of the evidence, rather than on the evidence itself.

"The prosecutors said that by filing the special allowance as his personal income, Ma had indeed taken the public funds as his own. However, I argue that the very same act only proves that Ma was not aware that the allowance was designated only for official use and that's why he treated the sum as part of his salary. Ma's actions clearly demonstrate he did not have any intent to commit the crime," Song said.

The KMT's anti-graft task force yesterday revealed the results of its independent probe into the case and concluded that there was no direct evidence linking Ma to the corruption charges.

The task force said Ma could not have illegally used the fund for personal purposes because his monetary donations to various charities throughout the years far exceeded the total sum of his allowance.

What's really great is that the KMT's claim that Ma's donations exceed his theft is exactly the same claim as Chen Shui-bian's claim that his voluntary salary reductions far exceed the amount of money he is alleged to have embezzled. The key difference between the two cases, however, is that prosecutors have no evidence that money in the Chen case found its way into private accounts. Whereas in the Ma case, it is obvious.

DPP Chairman Yu hacked on Ma and the KMT:

In response to media questions while attending a party function at the Chientan Youth Activity Center, Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Yu Shyi-kun (游錫<方方土>) said Ma's announcement that he intends to run for president in 2008 is "obviously a bid to get attention and shows that he does not respect or believe in the justice system."

The DPP chairman said that the KMT chairman's actions "are diametrically opposed to those of former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou and the Ma Ying-jeou who, as minister of justice, continually demanded that everyone respect the judicial system."

Yu also stated that the motion in the KMT Central Standing Committee to revise an "anti-corruption" clause in the party's charter so that Ma can be nominated by the former ruling party as its presidential candidate "shows that the claims of Ma and the KMT that they are reforming are false."

...while KMT legislators blasted the indictments.


skiingkow said...

QUESTION: Are charity donations tax-deductible in Taiwan?

Anonymous said...

Although I do not agree with the direction Ma wants to bring the country, I think he is getting railroaded on this issue. I do not believe he and his wife intentionally planned to "steal" this money. As we all know these private/public accounts are a legacy of the former ruling party. Definitely, for sure, some politician's blatantly rip off this money, others are caught in the middle like the Ma family. I just don't believe Mr. Ma and his wife are underhanded when it comes to money. (although I believe he did spy on fellow students years ago, but that was another time and another circumstance). They just conform to the rules as they exist and take what they think they are entitled to. (another example is the money for Dad’s funeral).

With that said, Mr. Ma and his blue party have caused tremendous turmoil in Taiwan in the past year(s). The blue party's warped mentally of stalling everything to improve Taiwan and going after CSB at all costs has been childish, idiotic, undemocratic, a waste of resources and very damaging to Taiwan. Ma joined in on these games and he is responsible for much of the trouble. Instead of controlling his minions, he sat on his ass and waited to see how the situations developed. Whenever he could score some points politically, he jumped in. He's proven himself to be spineless and weak leader. He is not the person that Taiwan needs to stand up against China. (neither is corrupt bag-man WangJerPing, but that's another issue).

The blue party has been a laughingstock since, well forever, but especially in the past 7 years since they lost power. Everything they've done has backfired on them and exposed them for the simpleton sellouts that they really are. It disgusts me to no end that whenever they need legal action they are the first to protest and demand it (and democracy too for that matter), but whenever the justice system is working against them, they cry foul like a bunch of sore loser spoiled brats.

I will stick my neck out and say that if Taiwan votes blue for the 08 election, it will be the last presidential election Taiwan will ever have. The blues will get their beloved one party rule dictatorship back, but it won't be who/what they think it will be. (Add in the fact that by 08 the US will be (is) crippled financially, it doesn't look good for the future of Taiwan if they win).

Actually, if Ma could form a third party, he still may have some chance. LeinChan for prez will never, ever work. How can the KMT be so blind? ~ funny thing is that Ma would have easily won in 2000 and the KMT would never have lost power had he run. The wannabe Wang would have his chance as the shoe in for 2008, but LC and his faction were just too selfish and greedy. Instead of thinking about the party and country first, they only wanted power for themselves and now they have nothing. Ma could run, win, then pull a PFP and rejoin the KMT and finally have the power to flush his enemies out of the party. (Wang/LC)

P.S. Glad to see Bruce Herschensohn come out with a book on Taiwan. I have always enjoyed listening/reading what he has to say. I feel the same way he does on the issue regarding the way Bush always talks about the importance of democracy on one hand, but does very little to support Taiwan, a country still struggling to overcome some legacies of dictatorship. (assets, constitution, justice system, dictatorship/privileged class mentality). On the same token, I don't see Taiwan doing very much to help the USA either. Even on small issues, like getting a visa longer than 30 days to come here, the government makes it nearly impossible to get.

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,

Been to your main site, could not access this page, please verify.

Thank you.

Your Regular visitor

Anonymous said...

kmt shenanigans...change the rules so Ma can play but more importantly without him as a candidate they face yet another loss of a presidential election.