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 (
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 (
"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 (
"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 (
"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.
In the spot, the president encourages voters not to be afraid to turn down a bribe offered in exchange for a vote. He goes on to say that vote-buying captains -- who do the leg-work of getting money into the hands of voters -- should realize that their bosses won't be willing to take the rap for them if caught.
"I think vote-buying captains should open their eyes," Chen says in the advertisement.
"Nowadays, candidates who are trying to buy votes are very smart. They will ask their vote-buying captains to do it for them instead of showing up personally.
"But once vote-buying captains are caught, the candidates will immediately say that it has nothing to do with them. So it's not worth working for these candidates, trying to buy votes for them," he continues.
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