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KMT candidates discuss party assets

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Acting chairwoman Huang Min-hui, legislator Apollo Chen and Taipei City Councilor Lee Hsin were present though, with the KMT assets one of the more se...

KMT candidates discuss party assets

Acting chairwoman Huang Min-hui, legislator Apollo Chen and Taipei City Councilor Lee Hsin were present though, with the KMT assets one of the more se...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Three out of four candidates for the Kuomintang leadership on Saturday discussed their plans for the party’s controversial assets at a public debate.
Following its catastrophic defeat in the January 16 presidential and legislative elections, the party has been trying to change, with a direct election for chairman slated for March 26.
Out of four remaining candidates for the position, only former Legislative Vice Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu remained absent from a debate hosted by young party activists Saturday, reportedly because of previous engagements in Southern Taiwan.
Acting chairwoman Huang Min-hui, legislator Apollo Chen and Taipei City Councilor Lee Hsin were present though, with the KMT assets one of the more sensitive topics to turn up.
Lee reportedly took the most radical option, saying the assets should be cut down to zero, while he even wanted to invite members from rival groups like the Democratic Progressive Party and the New Power Party to search for the funds together.
He said the assets might have done some good for the country during the era that party and state were one, but times had changed, and in a modern democratic society political parties should not possess such wealth. Each election has seen opposition groups accuse the KMT, often dubbed the world’s wealthiest political party, of using money to influence the results by buying votes or paying for ads. The asset problem dates back to the end of the Japanese colonial era in 1945, when the KMT came in from China and took over Japanese assets, while there was no clear difference between government and ruling party.
Lee said that if elected KMT chairman, he would set up a special committee to locate the assets, and if it was found that individuals profited illegally, they would be referred to the judiciary. If funds were used for purposes benefiting society at large, then the Legislative Yuan should draw up special regulations shielding individuals involved from prosecution, he said.
Huang emphasized that if assets were found to be illegal, the party should not hold on to them and they should be returned to the rightful owners. Yet, she also said the issue should not become an “ATM” for political opponents of the KMT.
Legal assets could be used to pay retirement benefits for party workers and to spend on social causes, but should not pay for election campaigns, she said.
Chen said illegal funds should be returned, but he disagreed with Lee’s proposal that the KMT should have no assets at all. He said his key word on the issue was transparency, but not zero assets. If he was elected, he would publish all the details about the KMT assets within three months. The legal funds should not be used on campaign funding, but should go to a social aid foundation, the lawmaker said.
Hung was accused of arrogance for her failure to participate in the event. Instead, she was in Chiayi with KMT presidential candidate Eric Liluan Chu and his running mate Jennifer Wang where they thanked supporters for their votes.
DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen won the presidential election by a margin of about 25 percent, while her party conquered an absolute majority at the Legislative Yuan for the first time in its history.