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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Response to allegations lacking

Response to allegations lacking

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Over the past few weeks, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been swamped by allegations of dubious relations with Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團). Despite the Presidential Office’s repeated denials, dismissing the claims as fabricated accusations, public doubts over Ma’s integrity continue to grow as more allegations surface.

Following separate claims by political commentators Wu Tsu-chia (吳子嘉) and radio host Clara Chou (周玉蔻), as well as allegations by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) and People First Party Deputy Secretary-General Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) late last month accusing Ma of having received political donations from conglomerates under the table — a case now under investigation by the Special Investigation Division of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office — a new allegation surfaced this week, questioning the cash flow handled by foundations set up by Ma.

Ma founded the New Taiwanese Cultural Foundation (新台灣人基金會) after he was elected Taipei mayor in 1998, then the Dwen An Social Welfare Foundation (敦安社會基金會) in 1999.

Accusing the New Taiwanese Cultural Foundation of having capital amounting to NT$1 billion (US$31.3 million), Chou on Monday questioned the foundation’s cash flow and aired suspicions over both foundations’ roles during Ma’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

While the New Taiwanese Cultural Foundation has denied Chou’s claim, saying it holds capital of just NT$20 million, the crux of the allegation — as Chou has said — lies not in the amount itself, but in the flow of money the foundation has handled.

Chou said she suspects dummy accounts have been set up to handle under-the-table donations.

Amid the snowballing allegations questioning the president’s integrity, the latest statement released by former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) dismissing claims that he acted as a guardian angel, or men shen (門神), for the Wei (魏) family that owns Ting Hsin, if anything, only made things look more suspicious.

After chiding Chou last week for accusing him of having “special relations” with the Wei family, Lo eventually came forward on Tuesday — right before the latest edition of the Chinese-language Next Magazine hit the shelves yesterday reporting the revelation — acknowledging that he did, after all, “have interactions” with Ting Hsin executive Wei Ying-chiao (魏應交) four times in 2013 during his stint as the Presidential Office deputy secretary-general.

Despite Lo’s claim the four exchanges were nothing but innocent meetings, the time period mentioned raised many skeptical eyebrows, given that it was about the time that Ting Hsin’s telecom subsidiary, Taiwan Star Cellular Corp (台灣之星), was bidding for a 4G license, as well as when Ting Hsin was seeking to acquire cable television operator China Network Systems Co (CNS, 中嘉寬頻), which serves nearly 30 percent of cable television customers in the nation.

“Highest moral standards” has been a popular catchphrase for Ma. At this point, even if Ma truly knew nothing about Lo’s conduct, now that Lo has owned up to it, should Ma not be livid and demanding an explanation from Lo?

The lack of any action from Ma in addressing these allegations against him and his close aides, other than hiding behind press releases, only serves to fuel public annoyance and anger over lax supervision of his officials, as well as further eroding the public’s trust and respect for him as the head of state.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2015/01/08

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People wearing T-shirts with a picture of the Dalai Lama on the back wait for the arrival of the Tibetan spiritual leader at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Sunday evening.

The Dalai Lama visited Siaolin Village (小林) in Jiasian Township (甲仙), Kaohsiung County, yesterday on the first full day of his five-day trip, where he hugged survivors of Typhoon Morakot and prayed for its victims.

“Mom, Dad, the Dalai Lama has come to pray for you, please come up quickly,” Chen Lan-yin (陳蘭因), a Siaolin survivor, said while the Dalai Lama held a ritual to bring peace to the departed at the site where the village once stood.