By Chen Yu-fu / Staff reporter
The National Women’s League on Monday last week approved transitioning into a political party to prevent being dissolved under provisions of the Political Parties Act （政黨法）, people familiar with the matter said yesterday.
According to amendments passed in 2017, politically oriented civil groups established in compliance with the Civil Associations Act （人民團體法） prior to the changes must revise their charters and transition into a political party by Dec. 17 or be dissolved.
To meet the requirements, the group’s standing committee held a meeting at which a lawyer explained that transitioning would be the only way to keep the organization alive, a branch member said.
While the committee voted in favor of the transition, the group still has to revise its charter and approve the changes at a national convention before submitting an application to the Ministry of the Interior, the sources said.
If the group is to transition into a political party, National Women’s League chairwoman Joanna Lei （雷倩） is expected to become the new party’s chairwoman, the sources said.
To prevent opposition from branch organizations, headquarters has offered extensive subsidies, including a Dragon Boat Festival payment of up to NT$500,000 （US$15,863）, the sources said.
Under former National Women’s League chairwoman Cecilia Koo （辜嚴倬雲）, headquarters did not have close ties with its branches, a branch member said, adding that it provided minimal financial support, but had great power over them.
Branches often had to fund their own events, despite having to share the credit with headquarters, the members said.
For example, Kaohsiung branch real estate was jointly purchased by Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） Chairman Wu Den-yih’s （吳敦義） wife, Tsai Ling-yi （蔡令怡）, and branch members, the member said.
Although headquarters did not contribute any money, the real estate was frozen and confiscated by the Executive Yuan’s Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee along with other assets, they said.
This was why some branch members opposed signing an administrative contract with the ministry, which forces drastic structural reforms, the member said.
Headquarters’ decision to distribute subsidies was clearly an attempt to lobby support for the transition into a political party, but even with subsidies for rice dumplings and Dragon Boat Festival events, branches might not vote for Lei as party chairwoman at the national convention, the member said.
The assets committee in February last year declared the National Women’s League to be a KMT-affiliated organization, froze its assets and began investigating its financial records.
Following investigations spanning a year, the assets committee in March ordered that holdings totaling NT$38.8 billion be confiscated, leaving the group with about NT$246 million.
The group appealed the decision and the Supreme Administrative Court on May 15 ordered that the assets should not be confiscated until it reaches a decision.
However, as the assets committee’s order remains in place, the funds are still frozen.
People walk past the National Women’s League headquarters on Linsen S Road in Taipei’s Zhongzheng District in an undated photograph. Photo: Chen Yu-fu, Taipei Times