Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) The Cabinet on Wednesday officially launched its new committee set up to handle the "ill-gotten" assets of the Kuomintang (KMT), kicking off what Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said was an important step in the transition to a democratic society.
The panel, known as the "Ill-Gotten Assets Settlement Committee," was established based on the recently passed Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and Their Affiliated Organizations.
It is headed by former lawmaker Wellington Ku (顧立雄) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In his speech at the ceremony to formally establish the committee, Lin said Germany set up a similar independent committee in 1990 to audit the property of political parties and large organizations. It operated for 16 years until completing its task in 2006, he said.
"We can imagine this kind of job is very complicated, difficult and challenging," Lin said. "We must be mentally prepared for the reform to take a long time to promote."
Settling "ill-gotten" party assets is an important step in pursuit of the transition to a democratic society, the premier said, and is aimed at exposing the assets of a political party acquired in an inappropriate way for people to examine.
If such assets are determined to be state property, they should be returned to state coffers, Lin said.
"This is what we believe is the best way to establish a fair competitive environment for political parties and resolve problems of the history," he said.
According to the new 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.
According to the statute, the committee was to have 11 to 13 members, and it currently has 12 people, including Ku.
At Wednesday's ceremony, Ku said the first thing the committee will do is to clarify how the KMT, KMT-run businesses and its affiliated organizations are defined.
The KMT on Wednesday reiterated criticism of the committee for hiring many DPP party workers as members, arguing that the panel, which it said has been totally "greened," has made a mockery of "transitional justice." It called for the committee to be reorganized.
The committee is "green from head to toe," said KMT Culture and Communications Committee deputy director-general Tang Te-ming (唐德明), blasting the members as being there "to serve the DPP and use the KMT as a political ATM."
In response, Ku said that at this stage, the issue was simply rhetoric and any response he would give would also be rhetoric, so there was no point in addressing it.
The most important thing, he said, was to get the committee up and running.
(By Tai Ya-chen, Hsieh Chia-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)ENDITEM/ls