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Monday, May 14, 2007


Chateau Fire Exposes More of Ma's Corruption

Grass Mountain Chateau
Grass Mountain Chateau (GMC, 草山行館), which was the first Presidential residence after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) escaped to Taiwan in 1949, was burned to the ground in a fire of unknown origin on April 7 of this year. Although some materials found among the debris raises the suspecion of arson, the real cause of fire is still undetermined.

The current political environment in Taiwan is filled with the calls of "de-Chiang-ization" (去蔣化), which is a movement to eradicate the God-like figure of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) that was painted by the authoritarian KMT government over the past 60 plus years. The movement includes renaming of many state-owned organizations, removal of numerous Chiang's status all over Taiwan, etc.

Naturally, elites of the old authoritarian KMT and their successors fought back furiously. Under this intense political spot light, up goes Chiang's first lodge in a blaze. In no time has it sparked a huge intensification of the current political conflict. Especially, pan-blue politicians are wasting no time looking for evidence to blame this fire on the anti-Chiang movement.

They conveniently forgot what the history should have taught them again and again: whatever conspiracy theories they cook up against the pan-greens, it always backfires and hurts them seriously. Rising from the ashes of the conspiracy theory about "burning GMC as part of anti-Chiang movement" is the discovery that Ma, during his term as Taipei Mayor, violated rules and ignored laws via a contract between GMC management contract winner and the Taipei City Government to benefit his Taipei City Government employee.

Grass Mountain Chateau

Map of northern Taiwan showing the location of Grass Mountain Chateau
An article in the Taipei Times describes the Chateau:
The chateau, located in Yangmingshan National Park, was built in 1920 as a vacation home for Japan's Prince Hirohito and later became a summer retreat for dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) after he retreated with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to Taiwan in 1949.
Here is another description:
The Taipei City Government took over the administration of the chateau after Chiang died in 1975, registering the building as a monument because of its historical significance. In 2002, it was turned into an arts salon and a museum.

Ma's GMC-related corruption

Remember that Ma Ying-Jeou was elected as Taipei Mayor in 1998.

The Chateau, as a national monument, is protected by law. The local government in whose jurisdiction a national monument resides is responsible for contracting the maintenance and preservation of the national monument to an outside party.

The contract winner of GMC management was the Humanities and Social Sciences of Fo Guang College (佛光人文社會學院). Kung Peng-Cheng (龔鵬程), who represented Fo Guang to sign the contract with Taipei City Government, is a senior consultant employed by Taipei City Government. To state it more clearly, Ma's Taipei City Government gave the contract of managing GMC to his own employee. Legally, this might not be a problem, if no rules were bent.

According to the law, whoever gets the management contract of a national monument should pay monthly management fee to the local government --- in this case, Taipe City.

Taipei City Councilwoman Jian Yu-Yen 台北市議員簡余晏
But the law was completely distorted when it came to Ma's hand. Taipei City Councilwoman Jian Yu-yen (簡余晏) and Councilman Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) pointed out on April 16 that, not only did Ma not ask Fo Gong to pay the required monthly management fee, but also his city government even paid a subsidy to benifit Fo Guang. Fo Guang, as the main contractor of the management, subcontracted the management tasks to several downstream parties and took management fees from them. Fo Guang put these management fees into their own pockets without paying them back to the Taipei City Government.

Taipei City Councilman Lee Ching-feng 台北市議員李慶鋒
Therefore, as a result of Ma's corrupted administration, not only did Taipei City Government illegally paid Fo Guang but also provided Fo Guang the location of a national monument for free --- without charging Fo Guang the management fee, the rent, or even the utilities (all were paid by the citizens of Taipei with their tax money) --- for Fo Guang to run a business that earned profits from subcontractors and visitors.

The corruption of Ma's government doesn't stop here. Upon the expiration of the contract, the Taipei City Government allowed Fo Guang to continue receiving all the illegal benefits --- free land, free Chateau, free utilities, illegal subsidies, and all the illegal earnings --- without signing a new contract or even an extension of the old one.

It's hard to believe that the Taipei City Government - under the administration of Ma Ying-Jeou - can't even manage a simple historical monument legally. The entire process is marked by a series of steps revealing corruption. Like many other previous cases, Ma might, as usual, claim that it's all his subordinates' fault so he doesn't need to shoulder any of the responsibility for this.

The Red Army leader Shih Ming-Teh (施明德) wearing an "anti corruption" shirt
I recall that when Ma was accused earlier this year of putting the Mayor's special allowence fund into his private account, Shih Ming-Teh (施明德), the leader of the Red Army that called for President Chen to step down in the name of 'anti-corruption' last October, responded to the media in regard of Ma's campaign for the Presidency next year,
"We came out to protest the corruption of a President. Now you expect people to vote a corrupt politician into the Office? Should Taiwan be called 'State of Corruption'? "
That's the real question that all blue and red supporters need to ask and answer. As the Presidential election comes closer and closer, I am sure that more and more Ma's corrupt activities will be exposed.

Note: Thanks to Tim Maddog for proofreading

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At 10:16 AM, Blogger Michael Turton said...

Great post. This is exactly the kind of thing we need more of.


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