Taiwan: As theWorld Turns Greased With Corruption

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Tuesday February 17, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Ma Ying-jeou's administration continually tries to spin itself as a clean government and those who lack memory or who have zero investigative powers will probably buy what they sell. So while the media are abuzz with the continuing trial of Chen Shui-bian who has been judged guilty even though his trial has just begun, maybe we should still peek behind the curtain of the side that tries to pass itself off as clean.

In a recent interview, Wu Poh-hsiung Chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was asked about the illegal assets that the KMT had kept from their one-party state days, and how that balanced with clean government. Wu first admitted that the party as a whole still had NT$ 20,000,000,000 (roughly US$588 million); this is even though numerous party members now possess extensive properties in the USA. But the party is trying to sell the remaining assets (and keep the money of course.)

That the KMT has $588 million while all the other parties have less than 1 million total did not strike Wu as strange. The KMT deserved it I guess. It wasn't corruption it was compensation for being the one-party state and taking the burden of deciding how to spend taxes for so long. Likewise as if in justification and stranger still, Wu claimed that the Party needed NT$ 2 billion a year just for expenses. Yes that is US$58 million a year just for expenses. The correlation between "I need it," therefore I am not corrupt in keeping it does not quite compute in my books. What is that needed for? Vote buying? Out-spending the other parties?

Well then, what about the KMT members; surely they lead a holier life. Let's check that. It was not that long ago when Ma was Chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that the KMT mayor of Keelung was found guilty of accepting bribes etc. and refused to step down. Following his lead, the KMT refused to do anything. Fortunately he died before it got too embarrassing for the KMT. Let's try someone else.

Then there was the magistrate of Taidun County also convicted of corruption in office. For that reason he could not run again for re-election. His wife also could not run since a person related to a convicted official cannot run. This time the KMT did act. They approved that the wife divorce her husband so that she could technically run for his position. OK, that fit the letter of the law, but it is not exactly an anti-corruption ticket. After the election, the former wife and ex-husband joined the KMT members in a victory celebration party. They had kept the position.

Then of course we have Diane Lee whom we know well and who has walked away with her illegal US$3 million. The KMT feels it is not their job to pursue it. Not corrupt enough? Or there is the other KMT legislator from Miaoli whose election was declared invalid because of vote-buying. Who did the KMT nominate to replace him, his wife of course. If the husband buys votes that means the wife will not? So the alleged clean KMT world turns.

But back to Chen; I have always said, if he is guilty, then hang him high, but let's have a trial first. As for the KMT, they seem to get a pass; oh that's right, they are the clean party. Ma Ying-jeou's secretary is in jail because he put a half-million US$ into Ma's account, but Ma is clean. I just forgot to read the newspapers.