KMT downsizing to be less than reported: party executive

Faced with financial difficulties, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) will have to downsize and adjust the wages of staff, but the streamlining will not be as severe as reports have suggested, a party executive said on Sunday.

Organizational streamlining and wage adjustments are a "necessary path" the KMT must take, party secretary-general Mo Tien-hu (???) said when asked about the financial problems, which have been caused by the freezing of its bank accounts by a Cabinet committee responsible for handling the "ill-gotten" assets of the KMT.

"The scale of current operations cannot possibly be maintained," Mo said, noting that the party will announce its restructuring plan in the near future.

Asked if the KMT will lay off up to 400 employees as has been reported, Mo replied that figure was pure speculation.

He noted that reports have mentioned the KMT could halve its 800 employees, but said that talk of 400 lay-offs was by those not privy to discussions on the matter, "we have never mentioned such a figure," Mo said.

The KMT lost the presidential and legislative elections to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Jan. 16.

As soon as the new government took power it pushed through the Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and Their Affiliated Organizations. That was followed by the establishment of the Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee to handle the "ill-gotten" assets of the KMT.

The committee was inaugurated on Aug. 31 and its first act was to freeze certain KMT bank accounts -- which the party says are mainly used to pay employees -- pending an investigation.

The freeze has made it harder for the KMT to operate as in the past and even pay bills, including employee salaries. Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (???) was forced to borrow money to pay salaries in September and October.

On Nov. 4 the Taipei High Administrative Court ordered the freeze suspended, referring to the move as legally "questionable."

KMT Administration and Management Committee Director Chiu Da-chan (???) said on Sunday that the party would contact the banks concerned and ask them to obey the court ruling. However, if they failed to do so, the KMT would seek legal redress, he added.

The law defines the committee's job as being to investigate, retroactively confiscate and return or restore to the rightful owners all assets obtained by the KMT and its affiliated organizations since Aug. 15, 1945 -- when Japan handed over its assets in Taiwan to the then ruling party of the Republic of China.

The law also assumes that all KMT assets -- except for membership fees, political donations, government subsidies for KMT candidates running for public office and interest generated from these funds -- are "ill-gotten" and must be transferred to the state or returned to their rightful owners.

The law stipulates that the KMT and affiliated organizations must, within one year of the law's promulgation on Aug. 10, register all of the targeted assets -- including real estate, cash deposits, securities and bonds -- with the new committee. The party is also banned from using those assets.

Facing a lack of resources, the KMT has launched a series of fund-raising activities among members and the public, asking for their assistance in overcoming its current financial difficulties.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel