Taiwan President Apologizes After Aide Charged With Taking Bribe

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou apologized today after an aide in his ruling Kuomintang Party was charged with taking NT$1 million ($33,500) in bribes over a Taipei real estate development.

Lai Su-ru, a Taipei city councilor, acknowledged taking the money, which she denied was a bribe, the Taipei District Court said in a statement today. She resigned yesterday as director of Ma’s party chairman office, Kuomintang spokesman Hsiao Hsu-tsen said.

“As party chairman I must accept the criticisms against us and take up the responsibility of supervision and reform,” Ma said in a statement released today. “I hereby apologize to the people of this nation.”

The case involving the Taipei Twin Towers development threatens to tarnish the corruption-fighting reputation Ma has cultivated since he took office in 2008. Ma’s predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, is serving a 20-year prison sentence for bribery, while another former leader, Lee Teng-hui, was indicted on embezzlement charges in 2011.

The Taipei city government said in October a consortium led by Kuala Lumpur-based IGB Corp. was favored to build the Taipei Twin Towers, only to announce in March that the consortium failed to furnish a initial performance bond. The Edge Financial Daily said the project is worth NT$80 billion.

A group of Taipei city councilors said in November they were concerned that the bidding process for the project had been compromised by corruption, the China Post reported. Lai remains in her city post.

“There’s no gray area in corruption,” Ma said. “It is my firm belief that anyone, no matter what party or status, should feel the full effect of the law.”