HONG KONG -- The Kuomintang's chickens have come home to roost. The KMT, which was swept off the China mainland in 1949 by Communist forces, ruled Taiwan from then until two years ago, when it was defeated in the presidential elections by Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Considered by many to be the world's richest political party, the KMT is now the target of legislation being introduced by the Chen administration. If passed by the legislature, the KMT (and other political parties) will be banned from operating or investing in profit-making enterprises. It will also have to dispose of assets that had been improperly acquired.

While the KMT maintains that not all of its assets were improperly acquired, it accepts that a substantial amount were and party officials are now talking of returning property to local governments or giving some assets to charity. Certainly, the party's financial advantage over its rivals will be much reduced in the future.