Mon, Feb 04, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Prosecutors to probe vice-speakership race

LEGISLATIVE MISCONDUCT To ensure party discipline, lawmakers voting in the contest for vice speaker were required to show their ballots -- in violation of the law

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP lawmakers scuffle over the ballot of their colleague Chiu Chang, center, whom they suspected of voting in favor of the KMT's Chiang Ping-kun during the election for vice-speaker at the Legislative Yuan on Friday.


Taipei district prosecutors yesterday said they would look into whether the public display of ballots during elections for legislative speaker and vice speaker on Friday broke the law.

Prosecutors also said they are gathering evidence of possible vote-buying in the elections.

The DPP legislative caucus, meanwhile, accused the KMT of paying as much as NT$5 million to encourage members of the pan-green camp to cast an invalid ballot.

Caucus members alleged that vote-buying cost DPP lawmaker Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) the vice speaker's chair.

Hong lost 106 to 115 against the KMT's Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤) in a second round of voting. In the first round, the vote count was 108 to 111 in Chiang's favor.

Two rounds were needed because neither candidate managed to win an outright majority in the first round.

Shih Mao-lin (施茂林), head prosecutor at the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, told prosecutor Lo Jung-chien (羅榮乾) yesterday to lead the investigation.

"We thought it was necessary to launch an immediate investigation into the matter since the situation looked way out of hand," Shih said.

Lo is expected to start the probe today, including asking for videotapes that captured Friday's vote in the legislature.

Although Friday's vote was supposed to be by secret ballot, lawmakers were required to show their ballots during the hotly contested race for vice speaker in an effort to ensure party discipline.

Before the vote, the DPP caucus had passed a resolution that required fellow lawmakers to "display" their votes before placing their ballots into the ballot box.

KMT lawmaker Lin Si-san (林錫山), who is also the legislature's secretary-general, said prosecutors should follow "standard procedures" if they ask for the legislature for evidence in the probe.

That means prosecutors need to file a written request to be reviewed by a legislative procedural committee and approved by the lawmaking body before any materials are turned over.

Lawmakers found to have publicly displayed their ballots could face up to three years in prison for violating a provision in the Criminal Code that outlaws the leaking of non-national security secrets.

Those found guilty of vote-buying face a fine and up to five years in jail under the Public Officials Election and Recall Law.

DPP lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that while he respects prosecutors' decision to probe Friday's vote and look into vote-buying, they should also respect legislative autonomy.

Freshman DPP lawmaker Julian Kuo (郭正亮) said the secret-ballot system should probably be replaced, as Friday's vote demonstrates.

"When most lawmakers ignore the rules, their action becomes a political one and sends the message that the regulations may not be appropriate," Kuo said.

While internal legislative regulations bar the display of secret ballots, members find ways around the rule.

The KMT and DPP yesterday also traded allegations that the other had attempted to buy votes in the race for vice speaker.

Tsai denied that the DPP had tried to buy votes from independent and KMT lawmakers in exchange for their support for Hong.

"The DPP has never ever tried to buy votes from anybody," Tsai said.

"Do you think that we would have lost the vice speakership race if we indeed had engaged in vote-buying?"

Tsai said he suspected the KMT of vote-buying, accusing the party of offering as much as NT$5 million to lawmakers who intentionally spoiled their ballots, making them invalid.

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