KMT chairwoman rebuts report of her party going bankrupt

The chairwoman of the Kuomintang (KMT) -- once the dominant political party in Taiwan -- on Monday refuted reports that the KMT was running out of money and will be bankrupt by the end of this year.

Hung Hsiu-chu was replying to questions raised by reporters about a newspaper report that predicted the KMT will see its fund flow blocked by the end of the year, given that the financial sector has begun to review the validity of KMT-run businesses' collateral after Taiwan's Legislature passed a law on the handling of inappropriate assets of political parties on July 25.

The China Times reported on Monday that several bills finance companies have decided not to roll over KMT-run businesses' debts that were due in August or will be due in September because their collateral may be termed "ill-gotten" assets.

As a result, the KMT's party coffer is expected to face insufficient amounts to pay its bills by the end of the year, the report said.

Asked if the KMT would run out of funds, Hung said there was no such concern so far, and that she has told party workers not to worry. She pledged she will do her utmost to settle the problem.

The chairwoman also said the KMT has stopped allocating pensions to retired party workers and no longer offers retired KMT members the 18% bank interest subsidy. To the party workers living in financial straits, a fund-raising campaign has been launched to help them, Hung added.

The KMT lost the presidential and legislative elections to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Jan. 16, after over six decades of serving as the majority party of the country.

On Aug. 31, the DPP-controlled government inaugurated its new committee that was established to handle the "ill-gotten" assets of the KMT based on the newly-passed Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and Their Affiliated Organizations.

According to the statute, the committee's job is to investigate, retroactively confiscate and return or restore to the rightful owners all assets obtained by the KMT and its affiliated organizations since Aug. 15, 1945 -- when Japan handed over its assets in Taiwan to the then ruling party of the Republic of China.

The law assumes that all KMT assets -- except for the party's membership fees, political donations, government subsidies for KMT candidates running for public offices, and interest generated from these funds -- are "ill-gotten" and must be transferred to the state or returned to their rightful owners.

The law stipulates that the KMT and its affiliated organizations must, within one year of the law's promulgation on Aug. 10, register all of the targeted assets -- including real estate, cash deposits, securities and bonds -- with the new committee. They are also banned from handling those assets.

KMT Administration and Management Committee director Chiu Da-chan has said the party still has more assets than debts. However, he admitted it does have a financial problem.

Meanwhile, KMT Secretary-General Mo Tien-hu said the party has implemented a variety of cost-saving measures, such as bonus and benefit cuts, and increasing the use of volunteer workers in running the party, since the new statute limits the sources of income of a political party to membership fees, donations and campaign subsidies.