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DPP councilors ask Ma to explain sale of Muzha estate

A number of Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers, along with Taipei City Councilor Chou Po-ya (周柏雅), yesterday demanded Kuomintang's presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) make public the contract of a controversial sale on a possibly ill-gotten estate, after local media reported that prosecutors were looking into the transaction.
The prosecutors were planning to question Ma on the matter.
The land in question was the former site of the KMT's "National Development Institute" in Muzha, Taipei City and has an area of around 18,000 pings. The DPP has claimed that the property was stolen from a citizen by means of coercion. One report claimed the owner was pressured at the gunpoint to sign over the property in 1962.
Next Magazine yesterday reported that a special investigation panel of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office suspected that Ma and KMT had promised the purchaser, Yuanlih Group, to change designation of the land use from a "school and government building only" to "residential" in order to construct a residential building on the site for sale.
According to Next Magazine, the prosecutors found in the contract that the KMT agreed to pay a sum of money towards the future tax increases as a deposit to the buyer to ensure the land use designation would be changed eventually.
Lands used for school and government buildings are exempt from taxation. If the land's usage was changed from public purpose to residential, the owner would then be liable to pay increased taxes of around one tenth of the total amount of the land's value, according to the report. It said that in the case of National Development Institute, the deal was NT$4.25 billion with a tax tag of NT$425 million.
"We would like to know if Ma made any promises to Yuanlih on changing the designation of the land use, when Ma was mayor of Taipei. If so, then Ma violated the Statute for the Punishment of Corruption and can be sentenced to a minimum seven years in prison and a maximum fine of NT$60 million. I urged Ma soon to clarify the questions," said DPP spokeswoman and Legislator Hsieh Hsin-ni.
The land's usage is still under the review by the city government and has still not been changed, but the KMT has received payment of NT$4.25 billion for the property, reports claim.
DPP had long criticized Ma as taking advantage of his position as the mayor to help change the designation for the land's use in order to facilitate sale, as the transaction was completed in August 2005 when Ma was both KMT chairman and Taipei City mayor.
DPP Legislator Wang Tuoh (王拓) described the whole deal was a scam and a fraud, and charged that Ma was the architect behind it.
Meanwhile, the district court yesterday concluded the trial in the case of the land's former owner Yeh Chung-chuan who charged Ma Ying-jeou and the land's buyer Yuanlih Group with illegal occupation and purchase of stolen goods. The court ruled that the charges were not sustained.
Yeh's son Yeh Sung-jen (葉頌仁) said they would decide whether to appeal the case after receiving verdict.

Updated : 2021-05-07 19:33 GMT+08:00