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May 23, 2017

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Ma wants minors to be free of 'inherited debt'

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang standard bearer Ma Ying-jeou is pushing an amendment to the inheritance law to rid minors of their inherited debt.

He called for an end yesterday to the trading of barbs in the 2008 campaign and prompt legislative action to free minors of the debt they inherit without their knowledge.

"Stop bad-mouthing each other and adopt an amendment to the inheritance law," Ma urged candidates of all political parties campaigning for the legislative elections.

Voters will go to the polls on Jan. 12 to elect a new Legislative Yuan, which will be halved, with its seats reduced to 113 from the current 225.

Ma took the initiative to amend the law in last July after he had read a letter to the editor of a mass-circulation newspaper by Chen Chang-ven, a former secretary-general of the Straits Exchange Foundation, and Chen Yeh-hsin, a Kaohsiung district court judge.

The two Chens pointed to the injustice befalling the unknowing minors, some of them toddlers.

A graduate student, for instance, owes over NT$10 million his father had piled up in debt before death. He was a mere fifth grader and did not ask for "limited inheritance," when his father died. As a matter of fact, the father didn't owe that much. The debt the now adult son has to repay includes the interest that has accrued over the years.

At Ma's request, the Kuomintang proposed an amendment, which still fell short of a general amnesty to the minors and those forbidden to manage their own assets, thanks to the opposition by the Ministry of Justice and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

The Ministry of Justice wants the amendment to be retroactive up to three years. That means the limited inheritance which exempts debt repayment has to be declared by the inheritor at the age of 17 at the latest.

"A general amnesty is called for," Ma said. Any minor who inherits a debt should be able to declare limited inheritance at any age, he added.

That's only fair, Ma pointed out. The amnesty should be written in the amendment, which must be acted on at once.

"The modified amendment should be put to a second reading now and passed before the Legislative Yuan adjourns," Ma stressed.

Kuomintang lawmaker Hsu Chung-hsiung told a press conference Ma's amnesty call, supported by the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families, would be made part of the amendment, which has yet to complete the first reading.

TFCF statistics show seven out of every ten minor inheritors are unable to repay their inherited debt.

Hsu called on the ruling party to start consultation to move the amendment.

The DPP may not go along.

"We think the amendment as proposed now will seriously affect the creditors," said a DPP heavyweight, who asked for anonymity.

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