Taiwan's KMT chairman to resign if charged

Updated: 2006-11-17 14:28

Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang Party (KMT), has announced he will disclose his assets soon and resign if faced with charges on the use of government fund.

Ma told local media Friday that he would make public his financial situation in the next official report of his assets to the government.

If faced with charges on the alleged misuse of a special government fund, he would resign from his posts as the KMT chairman and mayor of Taipei, he said.

Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party have accused Ma of misusing 340,000 New Taiwan dollars (10,300 U.S. dollars) from a special monthly fund.

He was questioned on Tuesday by local prosecutors, and later said he had helped "explain things and help clarify the matter".

Prosecutors said he was not being treated as a suspect or defendant and the questions were "routine".

A media investigation alleged a clerk in the Taipei mayor's office improperly filed receipts for use of the special fund, resulting in unbalanced accounts.

Ma expressed his deep regret on Wednesday, saying he felt ashamed and sorry to see this happen during his term of office.

But he also described it as an administrative fault, and not corruption, insisting that he was completely unaware and did not personally profit from it.

Jason C. Hu, mayor of Taichung City, said earlier that Ma was always very careful and it was unlikely he was involved in embezzlement.

A recent poll conducted by Taiwan's United Daily News showed the popularity of Ma rose to 56 percent from 53 percent in mid-September. About 58 percent of interviewees believed Ma was honest and 65 percent said he had no need to resign.

The Ma probe came just days after Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's wife and his aids were indicted for allegedly embezzling 14.8 million New Taiwan dollars (448,500 U.S. dollars) of a secret office fund.

Prosecutors claimed to have evidence to indict Chen on charges of graft and forgery of documents in connection with the fund, but as Taiwan leader he is immune from criminal charges and a formal indictment against him will have to await the end of his term in 2008.

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