Thu, Dec 07, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Convicts could be banned from office

`BLACK GOLD' POLITICS The Cabinet has endorsed a new measure that seeks to exclude those with criminal records from standing for election as public officials

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan put forth a measure yesterday that would outlaw politicians with a criminal record from holding public office.

The Executive Yuan approved yesterday revisions to the Public Officials Election and Recall Law (公職人員選罷法), which includes a so-called "black gold exclusion clause" (排黑條款). The measure imposes tough restrictions on candidates with backgrounds in organized crime who run for public office.

Citing the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防制條例) as reference, the Cabinet's draft amendments yesterday stipulate that politicians convicted under the act will not be allowed to participate in any elections during their lifetime.

In addition, anyone serving a suspended sentence for an offence under the act, and criminals facing death sentences or prison sentences of 10 years or more, would not be allowed to register as election candidates.

The ban would also apply to convicted racketeers released from prison within the last 10 years.

The draft will shortly be submitted to the legislature for review.

If passed, however, it will terminate the political lives of many incumbent lawmakers, such as KMT Legislator Kuo Ting-tsai (郭廷才) and independent Legislator Wu Tse-yuan (伍澤元), immediately disqualifying them from running in next year's legislative elections.

Kuo was found guilty of embezzling more than NT$2.3 million from a Pingtung credit cooperative and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Wu, a former Pingtung county commissioner, was convicted on charges of corruption and sentenced to 15 years.

The Cabinet's draft is expected to spark intense debate and encounter many obstacles in the legislature.

The draft, in addition, addresses political parties' responsibilities for nominating candidates who are involved in vote-buying or use violence to secure votes. If candidates are found guilty of such violations, their parties will be penalized with fines of between NT$500,000 and NT$5 million.

In a related event, the KMT yesterday released a special report prepared by one of its think tanks on the new government's investigation into "black gold."

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), citing cases in which legislators' offices and media offices were searched, said that the DPP government had abused its administrative and political power to interfere with judicial investigations.

Lien also said that the DPP government had failed to respect due process, and that as a result the rule of law has not prevailed despite the people's support of the government's efforts to eradicate "black gold."

Members of the KMT's Central Standing Committee Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who are regarded as having no connections with local factions, yesterday endorsed the report.

But at the same time, the KMT members urged their party to cut its connections with local mafia and organized crime groups.

Liu said that the party should make a clean break with its "black gold" past, otherwise, it will be hard for people to realize the party's determination on political reforms, he said.

Ma also urged the party to enforce concrete measures so that the KMT would not be left behind in this respect.

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