Ma indicted, resigns, runs for president
An eventful day for Ma.... indicted, resigns as KMT chair, then announces presidential bid. ESWN has the news via the pro-Blue TVBS station:
Former Taipei city mayor Ma Ying-jeou was indicted today for embezzlement. During the course of eight years as mayor, Ma Ying-jeou had NT$1.632 million transferred from the mayor's special fees into his personal account. While it is true that the special fees do not require receipts, they must still be spend for public purposes. Of these, it was determined that NT$1.1 million had no indication of being spent on public matters. Furthermore, the amount was also reported as personal assets. Therefore, the prosecutor determined that there was sufficient evidence to indict for embezzlement. In addition, Ma's secretary was indicted for falsification of documents as well as embezzlement of NT$760,000.
There was no joy in pro-China mudville tonight as the China Post noted of its fair-haired boy:
Taiwanese prosecutors indicted Nationalist Party leader Ma Ying-jeou on corruption charges Tuesday, dealing him a heavy blow ahead of the island's March 2008 presidential elections.
The prosecutors said Ma had diverted 11 million New Taiwan dollars (US$333,000; �257,000) from a Taipei city expense fund between 2002 and 2006 when he served as the city's mayor.
The pro-democracy Taiwan News has a more in-depth account:
Prosecutors probing alleged misuse of public fund by Kuomintang Chairman Ma Ying-jeou during his stint as Taipei mayor indicted Ma on corruption charge Tuesday afternoon.
Ma, widely considered the frontrunner in the 2008 presidential race, offered to quit the KMT chairmanship after an emergency meeting of the party's Central Standing Committee at 6pm.
Despite the indictment, Ma said he will enter the 2008 presidential race.
The party's charter bars indicted members from seeking its presidential nomination, however.
Chief Vice Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung will temporarily take over Ma's responsibility before the largest opposition party elects a new chairman within three months.
My favorite part of this report is what the prosecutor said:
Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen, who was responsible for the probe, suggested in the indictment the judiciary deal with Ma lightly, noting that the former mayor was not fully aware of his misconduct.
In Taiwan, politics provides never-ending entertainment. Let's see...the former Minister of Justice is unaware of what the law is? He didn't notice that he put the money in his wife's account? (according to the pro-Green Liberty Times the other day). He didn't see his account burgeoning by thousands every month? Either Ma is so dumb that he shouldn't be permitted to sell newspapers in front of the metro station, let alone be President, or he's so corrupt that....you get the drift.
The report doesn't note that Ma and the prosecutor are friends -- Ma was a witness at his wedding.
There's a year ahead and anything can happen. But right now, me, a lemon, some soda water, and a bottle of Bacardi have a date. More tomorrow after I sober up.
Taiwan] [KMT] [media] [Ma Ying-jeou] [Chen Shui-bian] [corruption]