Fri, Nov 09, 2001 - Page 1 News List

KMT says cooking classes not corrupt

VOTE-BUYING Cooking-class exhibitions sponsored by a KMT women's group in Chiayi may have been an attempt to solicit support, according to investigators, since attendees got free tastes of the food prepared

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Free exhibitions for a cooking class where participants were invited to enjoy students' work may have been an illegal attempt to "buy" votes for candidates in Chiayi, Ministry of Justice investigators said yesterday.

But organizers of the events scoffed at the idea, saying the DPP government was being overzealous in its crackdown on vote-buying and calling a raid on KMT offices in Chiayi yesterday an example of "green terror."

Acting on a tip, investigators raided the KMT's headquarters in Chuchi township (竹崎), taking away evidence of the cooking-class exhibitions that included pictures of the events, an account book and papers promoting the affairs.

Investigators also detained Ho Hsin-yi (何欣怡), the secretary for the KMT's Women's Federation in Chuchi, which held the cooking-class events.

According to ministry investigators, the Women's Federation hosted dinner parties, gave away free meal tickets and invited KMT legislative and mayoral candidates to attend the events -- which may have broken the law.

The most recent exhibition was held on Wednesday night.

But Tsai Keng-yi (蔡耿義), director of the KMT's Chuchi offices, called the raid an example of "green terror," referring to the idea that the government uses its power to go after political rivals.

"Our Women's Federation was just having an exhibition of their cooking class," Tsai said.

"It was very natural for us to invite our KMT candidates to join us and introduce themselves to everybody. It had nothing to do with vote-buying," Tsai added.

Tsai said that including Wednesday night's event, the Women's Federation has held 11 exhibitions of their cooking class.

The KMT official said candidates for other political parties attended previous exhibitions and all 11 events were open to the public.

"The DPP is trying hard to oppress other political parties," said Justin Chou (周守訓), spokesman for the KMT's Culture and Communications Affairs Committee.

"It's very ugly for them to do so. When government officials use their political influence ... to create a `green terror,' how can they ask citizens to trust the judiciary?" said Chou.

The term "green terror" is a play on the term "White Terror," a period of time in which thousands of Taiwan's most prominent citizens and intellectuals were rounded up, killed or vanished without explanation as the KMT waged a war against the Japanese-educated intelligentsia.

In related news, Nantou County prosecutors indicted 12 people in three separate vote-buying cases yesterday.

A prosecutor in Nantou said six friends and relatives of a candidate were charged with paying for a junket for voters.

Details surrounding the two other cases were unclear.

A ministry official said five people have been taken into custody so far on vote-buying charges and 16 others freed on bail.

Prosecutors are investigating 998 people after receiving tip-offs and have summoned 151 people for questioning, he added.

In addition yesterday, the government released a TV commercial featuring President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to encourage the public not to accept money or bribes for their voters.

"Initially, we thought that President Chen might be very busy and might not be able to help," Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) said.

"So we were planning to cut and paste some footage of the president's previous speeches and add his voice-over. To our astonishment, President Chen said he would spare some time" to participate," the minister said.

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