MOI to order National Women’s League dissolved

TAIPEI (CNA) — Deputy Interior Minister Hua Ching-chun (花敬群) said he will sign an official document later Monday which marks the official dissolution of the National Women’s League (NWL) once received by the 70-year-old group.

The dissolution is being ordered because the league refused to transform itself into a political party in accordance with related laws before a government-set deadline.

According to the ministry, the document will be sent to the NWL later Monday to notify the group of the MOI’s decision to dissolve the NWL, which was founded in 1950 by former first lady Chiang Soong May-ling (蔣宋美齡), the wife of then President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) to provide care for military families.

The ministry said according to the Political Parties Act, which came into effect on Dec. 6, 2017, all political groups, including NWL, must revise their charters and transform themselves into political parties within two years following the promulgation of the Act.

The deadline was originally set to expire on Dec. 6 2019, but the the ministry extended it for four months to allow the NWL to make preparations for the transformation, according to Hua.

However, the NWL has refused to comply, forcing the ministry to order its dissolution it, he added.

According to NWL Chair Joanna Lei (雷倩), its members voted against transforming the organization into a political party at a provisional members’ meeting on Oct. 16, 2019.

In a press release issued Sunday, Lei said the MOI should not dissolve the group for the time being as the league is in the process of transforming itself into a public welfare foundation.

She questioned the validity of the government-imposed mandatory transformation of the group into a political party, saying the decision violates the Republic of China Constitution which grants people freedom of assembly and association.

Lei also said the NWL decided against turning itself into a political party out of concern that it would continue to be subject to “political persecution” by the government’s Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee after such a transformation.

The cabinet-level committee determined in February 2018 that the NWL is affiliated with the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

The committee further froze NWL’s assets of NT$38.7 billion (US$1.27 billion) in March 2019, on the grounds that those assets belong to the state and should be returned.

The committee argues that the then-KMT administration assisted the NWL by soliciting operational funds through a surcharge on imported components and goods by manufacturers, as well as by importers and exporters, over a 30-year period.

The embattled league is currently suing the government over the decision to freeze its assets and impose other penalties.