Candidates spar over property speculation

By Yuan-Ming Chiao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The presidential race turned into an all out mudslinging contest as both the ruling and main opposition parties accused each other’s candidates of property speculation on Thursday. Tsai Accused of Insider Trading Reeling from continued barrages challenging the veracity of its vice-presidential candidate, Wang Ju-hsuan (王如玄), in recent days, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) went on a full offensive, led by legislators Wang Yu-min (王育敏) and Alex Tsai (蔡正元), and former lawmaker Chiu Yi (邱毅), accusing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of property speculation on 15 separate plots of land dating back to 1988.   In a press conference at the Legislative Yuan, the KMT accused Tsai of insider trading while she was a member of the Fair Trade Commission (FTC, 公平交易委員會) in 1996. According to released documents pertaining to her property ownership, Tsai sold 15 plots of land in the Neihu Redevelopment Zone in 1997. The party contended that conservative estimates have Tsai netting profits of NT$180 million (approximately US$3.6 million) for the sales. DPP Hits Back, Targets Chu’s Wife A spokesman for the opposition fired back at the KMT, saying that allegations of insider trading, property speculation and abuse of power were untrue and that the KMT had used incorrect information and calculation methods to arrive at the charges. Lawyers stated that Tsai had only made NT$41.3 million on properties amounting to an area of 149 ping (one ping is equivalent to approximately 3.3 square meters), which is accurately reflected in her personal asset disclosures filed for 1997.

Meanwhile, the party fired a volley of its own, accusing KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu’s spouse, Kao Wan-ching (高婉倩), of “false development” of lands in New Taipei’s Shimen District. DPP lawmakers argued that Kao purchased 19 separate plots of land in the area, valued at approximately NT$10,000 per ping, after graduating from university but had not actually developed the land despite earning construction permits from environmental agencies. KMT spokeswoman Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) later rebutted the DPP, saying that the opposition had mounted a new smear campaign using leftovers from previous campaigns when Chu ran for mayor of New Taipei. She said the property development case had already been closed as the permit for building a hotel there had been terminated. Wang’s Husband Resigns from Post In another development following the firestorm of controversy over the KMT vice-presidential nominee’s personal assets, the husband of Wang Ju-hsuan, Huang Tung-hsun (黃東焄), announced that he would resign his position as head of the Judicial Yuan’s Department of Government Ethics (司法院政風處). Wang said she was unclear about her husband’s decision, emphasizing that they would both work hard to meet public demands.