New act in Taiwan is only targeting assets of the Kuomintang
President Tsai Ing-wen calls the recently passed Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and their Affiliate Organisations, transnational justice that is necessary for Taiwan’s transition to democracy.
However, jurisdictions that adhere to the rule of law and democratic principles reject laws that target a single entity, which the act does. Thus, rather than a transition, this is a step back for Taiwan’s constitutional and democratic development.
The Kuomintang (KMT) is committed to disposing of its assets in an orderly fashion after provisions are made for debts and pension obligations, but it also believes that a law on the assets of political parties should apply equally to all parties. However, this act targets assets obtained on or after August 15, 1945 (the date imperial Japan’s garrison on Taiwan surrendered) until July 15, 1987, the date additional parties could be registered, making the KMT the only target of the act.
Because it targets a single entity, the act is unconstitutional. It also assumes that the KMT illegally obtained all its assets, and reverses the constitutional presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
In fact, the committee overseeing the act’s implementation has prohibited the KMT from using income derived from party assets to pay party expenses.
The broad definition of assets and the brief period of time in which the KMT must report its assets to the committee, are also among the draconian mechanisms designed to ensure non-compliance and penalties.
The KMT believes it will be impossible to comply with the committee’s impossible deadline.
By offering rewards of approximately US$3 million (HK$23.3 million) to those who inform on the KMT’s assets, despite the party’s assets already being publicly disclosed, the committee is conducting a witch-hunt.
The judicial review that the KMT will pursue will ensure that a party that enjoys control of both the executive and legislative branches of government when exercising its powers, does not violate the constitution.
We trust that Taiwan’s judiciary will safeguard the constitutional issues that are at stake.
Eric Huang, head of international affairs, Kuomintang, Taipei, Taiwan