Sun, Dec 29, 2002 - Page 8 News List

DPP walks the talk in Kaohsiung

By the Liberty Times editorial

The inauguration ceremony of the mayors and city councilmen of Kaohsiung and Taipei City took place on Wednesday with the elections for the two city councils' speakers and deputy speakers taking place immediately afterwards. Taipei's election was the less complicated of the two and did not result in much controversy. The election in Kaohsiung, however, sparked major interest, inciting public skepticism toward both the opposition and ruling camps.

In the elections held earlier this month, the DPP became the biggest party in the Kaohsiung City Council. But, right before the election of council speaker and deputy speaker, the DPP's council caucus did something that took everyone by surprise -- it passed a resolution supporting the election of independent councilman Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄) as the new speaker.

Many DPP members and supporters found it difficult to accept this, since Chu is a defendant in several ongoing criminal lawsuits. Realizing just how serious a matter this was, the DPP's Central Standing Committee (CSC) officially passed a resolution to rescind the caucus' earlier appeal.

The DPP reiterated that anyone who had been implicated in vote-buying, corruption or other major financial scandals and then became the target of government investigations, could never become a candidate supported by the caucus. Although the candidates nominated by the CSC were defeated and Chu was elected speaker, the DPP managed to save a great deal of face as a result of its timely decision.

Rumors of vote-buying for this election had been circulating for some time. Reportedly, the price for each vote in the speaker election was as high as NT$10 million, while the deputy speaker election was billed at NT$3 million. Moreover, the payments were to be made in installments both before and after the election.

Similar rumors about the Taipei City Council elections also circulated and, as a result, Premier Yu Shyi-kun especially instructed Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) to investigate the allegations.

If Chen unearths any legitimate suspicions or concrete evidence of vote-buying, the matter must be dealt with according to the law, Yu emphasized. That led to the heavy prosecutor and police presence at the Kaohsiung City Council vote to monitor the entire process and gather potential evidence. They did not dare drop their guard for a second.

The speakers and deputy speakers of the two city councils have now been elected. Rumors of vote-buying however persist. It's time for the Prosecutors' Office to thoroughly investigate the matter.

Chen held a press conference on Wednesday revealing that Chu was to be charged with vote-buying in the city council election earlier this month as well as embezzling company assets. The Prosecutors' Office is seeking jail terms of two years and four months for vote-rigging and seven years for embezzlement, Chen said. Chen then called on the Judicial Yuan to urge the courts to give quick trials for these cases, because "belated justice is no justice at all."

The general public should open their eyes to see whether the opposition and ruling parties are living up to their "anti-black-gold" slogans in the speaker and deputy speaker elections. Let us use the election in Kaohsiung as an example. At the end, all 14 votes from the DPP were cast for candidates nominated by the party. The TSU voted for their own candidates as well. The independent Chu was elected obviously due to the support of the pan-blue councilmen. The KMT had already indicated that if any KMT councilmen were involved in vote-buying, they wouild be immediately expelled from the party. The PFP also declared that if any of its councilmen were involved in any illegal activity, they too would be expelled. This indicates that the ruling and opposition camps do have a consensus when it comes to opposing the use of violence and money to gain votes in elections. The only remaining question is: What action have they taken against these practises?

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