President Ma Ying-jeou filed a lawsuit against outspoken commentator and TV talk show host Clara Chou on December 30, alleging defamation over her repeated public accusations that he had received illegal campaign donations.
In an open letter to Ma posted on her Facebook account in early December, Chou related information she said she had been given by a former high-ranking official of the National Security Bureau. This person claimed to have heard through a friend that Ma’s campaign had received under-the-table donations totaling NT$200 million from disgraced food manufacturer Ting Hsin. Taiwan law caps corporate donations at NT$3 million. Making the matter even more sensitive is that Ting Hsin was at the heart of last year’s waste oil scandals. Its chairman, Wei Ying-chun, has been indicted on charges of public fraud, forgery, and violations to the food sanitary act that could keep him in prison for 30 years.
According to Chou, the illegal donations caused the Ma administration to refrain from pursuing Ting Hsin in the early days of the scandal. Chou called for an investigation into the charges by the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. The SID acknowledged receiving the complaint and has opened an investigation.
The case has sparked a slew of lawsuits and countersuits. Several members of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) implicated in the charges are also suing Chou, while Chou in turn has filed suit against Vice President Wu Den-yi, who is also vice-chairman of the KMT, alleging failure to rein in party members out to intimidate her.
Ma is demanding NT$10 million in compensation and an apology published in four major newspapers, according to his lawyer. The president has also filed a criminal complaint against Chou, alleging libel.