Tue, Mar 09, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Nobel Peace Prize winner facing fine

NO FOREIGNERS ALLOWED The Nobel laureate wished Annette Lu success in the election, and now faces a fine of up to NT$5 million for violating the law

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams was facing a fine of between NT$500,000 and NT$5 million yesterday after the Taipei City Election Monitoring Group, an agency of the Taipei City Govern-ment responsible for supervising the legality of election campaign activities, decided she should be fined for stumping for the Demo-cratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential campaign.

The peace activist from Northern Ireland appeared at an election rally on Sunday night with Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), where she read a declaration of women's rights and wished success to Lu's re-election bid.

Election Monitoring Group said Williams' appearance was in violation of Article 96 of the Election and Recall Law (選罷法) which bans foreigners from publicly stumping for election candidates.

The group said it would inform the DPP, which invited Williams under the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy's (TFD) auspices, of the actual amount of the fine by letter in the next few days.

Williams was officially invited to visit Taiwan by the TFD, a government organization supervised by the four major political parties.

The TFD paid about US$40,000 for Williams' trip.

Although the TFD sponsored William's trip to Taiwan, it was the DPP that invited her and organized her activities here.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) said the fees the TFD paid for Williams' trip were taken from the organization's budget for political party projects. The money is apportioned to the four main political parties according to the number of seats they hold in the legislature.

Kau, who is also the TFD president, told the legislature yesterday he did not know Williams would appear in the DPP rally.

"Williams not only joined a street parade with Lu but also showed up in the DPP rally. She has obviously violated the law," said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sun Kuo-hwa (孫國華).

Kau said the TFD did not know the details of William's itinerary and did not know that she intended to stump for the DPP at the rally Sunday.

Sun said he believed Williams flouted the law unintentionally and advised the TFD to inform foreign guests it invites of related regulations concerning their activities here so as to prevent similar situations from happening again.

According to Kau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has invited more than 40 groups of foreign election-observers to Taiwan and the Government Information Office has invited 30.

The Mainland Affairs Council also invited election observation groups from Hong Kong and Macau.

"Williams would not feel wronged if the foundation had informed her of the regulations," Sun said.

DPP Legislator Lin Chung-mo (林重謨), however, said the monitoring group imposed the fine on Williams because of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) double standards.

The DPP presidential campaign headquarters condemned the fine as a "great disrespect and insult" to the Nobel laureate and demanded the monitoring group review its decision.

Lin cited examples of how Ma, one of the KMT's future presidential hopefuls, once flouted the law when he was campaigning for Taipei mayor by soliciting votes on the streets earlier than the legally-appointed time.

Lin also questioned whether KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), the opposition presidential candidate, also violated the law yesterday by declaring James Heckman, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Economics, as his government's economic advisor if he is elected.

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