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July 26, 2017

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Ma, Wu and Sheng declared innocent in Dreamers case

The China Post news staff--The Taipei District Prosecutors Office yesterday concluded that due to a lack of clear and direct evidence, President Ma Ying-jeou, former Premier Wu Den-yih and former Council of Cultural Affairs (CCA) Minister Emile Sheng are not guilty of charges of misusing NT$220 million in public funds to stage the musical flop "The Dreamers".

Regarding Sheng's decision to spend the NT$220 million for the musical, which was performed for a mere two nights, authorities indicated that Sheng should make some form of compensation to counter the damage done to the CCA's reputation.

Before the presidential election earlier this year, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen was questioned over her alleged involvement in the Yu Chang case. The DPP counterattacked by accusing Ma, Wu and Sheng of rampant misuse of government funds for the theater project.

According to the TDPO, Ma and Wu were both found innocent of any wrongdoing, for they only offered suggestions while listening to Sheng's presentations.

Sheng commented, "I'm not surprised at these results at all." Sheng stressed that he had been following the rules in his preparations for the musical, adding that he felt helpless and confused that an art event would force him to leave his post as minister for the Council of Cultural Affairs.

Prosecutor Claims

Prosecutors revealed that the auction process for the musical was held with an open vote, and no bidders were given preferential treatment or information.

The TDPO also indicated that there was no clear evidence that Performance Workshop Theatre founder Stan Lai had surveyed the stage site in Taichung prior to the auction. According to authorities, before and after Jan. 10, 2011 Lai was not in Taiwan and therefore could not have personally surveyed the site.

Opposition Response

DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien said yesterday that the "Dreamers" case will always be a stain on the CCA's track record, for there still remain many unsolved puzzles concerning the case.

Additionally, the DPP stated that the results were not particularly surprising, as Taiwan's judicial system has become a political tool and has lost its sense of accountability.

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