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Taiwan's third largest party seeks return of once public lands from Lien family (Update)

The NPP said it would seek to have a probe launched into alleged embezzlement of public assets belonging to the Taipei Jen Chi Hospital by former Prem...

The NPP said it would seek to have a probe launched into alleged embezzlement of public assets belonging to the Taipei Jen Chi Hospital by former Prem...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)--Taiwan’s third largest political party, New Power Party (NPP), said Tuesday it would seek to have an investigation launched into alleged embezzlement of public property by former Premier Lien Chan’s (連戰) father, Lien Chen-tung (連震東), after he took over the Taipei Jen Chi Hospital (仁濟醫院) from Japan when it renounced its control over Taiwan after World War II.

The NPP has submitted a draft bill that would mandate investigations into assets allegedly improperly obtained by former civil servants or other people from the assets the Japanese colonial era administration handed over to the government, aiming to actually enforce the government's policy of transitional justice. The bill, which would also mandate the return of such improperly obtained assets, is set to be discussed in the Legislature on Wednesday.

Not only had the Chinese Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT), the ruling party at the time of Japan’s handover of Taiwan to the Republic of China, and its appendant organizations embezzled national assets during and after the Japanese handover, but some non-KMT politicians had also engaged in the stealing, NPP Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said. The most infamous exposed case of these is the taking over of the Taipei Jen Chi Hospital, Lim added.

Taiwan's third largest party seeks return of once public lands from Lien family (Update)

Former Premier Lien Chan and his wife, Lien Fang-yu

The hospital, a philanthropic facility formerly run by the Japanese colonial government, was established by the Japanese government, which merged private medical facilities with premises near Taipei Railway Station and the Ximending (西門町) area in Taipei.

Lien Chen-tung, a former KMT government official who managed the handover of Taipei from Japan, took over the facility, and soon after the take-over he and other people converted it into a private foundation for no apparent reason, according to Lim.

In 1971, Lien Chen-tung became the president of the hospital’s board of directors. Lien Chan’s wife, Lien Fang-yu (連方瑀), became a hospital director in 2003.

KMT Central Policy Committee director Alex Tsai (蔡正元) denied the accusation of the land being embezzled by the Lien family, saying that Lien Chen-tung was invited to become the hospital’s chairman and being a chairman of a charity didn’t mean the charity was his. He said some of the hospital’s land plots had been encroached since its orphanage moved to another place and there has been much misinformation resulting from fighting over the land ownership, asking the NPP to "do some homework."

According to information provided by sources familiar with the history of the hospital, Lien Chen-tung, as head of a committee to oversee the Japanese government’s handover of Taipei in 1945, assigned Chang Mu-nien (張暮年) to take charge of the Taipei Jen Chi Hospital.

In 1946, Lien Chen-tung recommended Chang to be president of the hospital. According to the introduction on the hospital’s website, in January 1950, the hospital, which provided care to patients and poor people, was registered as a private nonprofit foundation in accordance with the Civil Code. The first chairman of the foundation was Yu Mi-chien (游彌堅).

During the early years after the Japanese left Taiwan, the institution struggled financially, prompting local gentlemen Lien Chen-tung, Chang, and others to jointly use their credit to obtain loans from banks in order to support the operation of the institution.

In 1971, Lien Chen-tung became the chairman of the private nonprofit organization and remained until 1986, when he was succeeded by Wei Huo-yao (魏火曜).

The sources said that as the institution is located near the Presidential Office in downtown Taipei, the properties have a market value of over NT$200 billion, spawning speculation that Lien Chen-tung stole the hospital’s properties.

However, the hospital was part of the handover from the Japanese government and therefore belonged to the public, the sources said, adding that using donations of this nature to form foundations, with money that cannot be returned to the donors, was a practice in accordance with Article 44 of the Civil Code.

Not only do the foundations have to operate for the purpose of public welfare, but they are also subject to government oversight; therefore, speculation of embezzlement is baseless, according to the sources.