Taiwan prosecutors have indicted the leader of the island's biggest opposition party, the Kuomintang, on corruption charges. But as VOA's Heda Bayron reports from Hong Kong, party chairman Ma Ying-jeou says the charges will not affect his presidential bid next year.

The popular politician was charged with transferring public money from a special fund to a personal bank account during his eight years as Taipei mayor.

Chang Wen-cheng, a spokesman for the Taiwan public prosecutor's office, says Ma Ying-jeou is accused of embezzling more than $300,000.

Shortly after the announcement, a defiant Ma vowed he would not be defeated by the charges against him.

He says the indictment will not stop him from running for president next year. But as promised, he will step down as chairman of the Kuomintang, a position he has held since August 2005.

Ma acknowledged last year that there may have been irregularities in some expense reimbursements related to the fund. But he denied using the money for personal use.

Ma is considered the leading candidate in next year's presidential election, but the indictment tarnishes his image as "Mr. Clean".

Last year, Ma called for the resignation of President Chen Shui-bian because of alleged corruption. In November, the Kuomintang and other opposition parties tried to push for a referendum to oust Mr. Chen, but the motion was defeated in the legislature.

Prosecutors started investigating Ma in November, shortly after President Chen's wife and aides were indicted for embezzling money from a diplomatic fund. Prosecutors have said Mr. Chen also could face indictment on similar charges after the end of his term next year.