Fri, Dec 12, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Chang Sho-wen to stay away from vote in legislature

By Flora Wang and Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文), whose involvement in a vote-buying case — a civil case brought by Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) — is still under court review, said yesterday he would not participate in today’s plenary session as the Legislative Yuan deals with a proposed amendment to the Election and Recall Law for Public Servants (公職人員選舉罷免法).

Chang said he would not participate in any vote on the proposal given Yunlin District Court’s nullification of his election victory in a first trial on Nov. 28.

The verdict was not final. Chang has appealed.

Chang’s father, Chang Hui-yuan (張輝元), is out on bail in a separate criminal vote-buying case brought by Yunlin County prosecutors.

The proposal by KMT Legislator Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) seeks to allow election annulment cases to go through three trials rather than two as stipulated in the law, before a court reaches a final verdict.

Lin said the law is inadequate and should be amended.

The proposal has drawn criticism from the DPP as five pan-blue lawmakers — the KMT’s Chang, Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井), Chiang Lien-fu (江連福) and Lee E-tin (李乙廷) and the People First Party’s Lin Cheng-er (林正二) — have been involved in annulment cases.

The proposal has been included in today’s plenary agenda, but it may not be discussed as Chang said yesterday that the party’s Central Policy Committee had reservations about the bill.

The Taichung branch of the Taiwan High Court on Wednesday annulled Lee’s election victory in the second trial, making him the first incumbent lawmaker to lose his seat as a result of a lawsuit.

Lee yesterday maintained his innocence, saying he did not understand why the high court could annul his victory on vote-buying charges in a civil suit while finding him not guilty in a criminal suit.

Lee rebutted a court ruling that his NT$2,000 donation to a temple constituted vote-buying, saying that making religious donations was a common practice in Taiwan.

KMT caucus deputy secretary Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) voiced support for Lin’s proposal, saying that Lee’s case highlighted the flaws in the law.

“This is an unjust regulation. [The DPP] should not be so sure of itself,” Lu said.

“We have already had a victim [of that regulation]. Everyone should stop and think whether the regulation is fair,” Liao said.

Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said the office would respect the KMT legislative caucus’ final decision on the matter.

DPP lawmakers said yesterday they would veto the proposal to amend the law.

“We will fight to the end to veto it,” DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) told a press conference at the DPP legislative caucus office yesterday morning.

Chiu said the move would help bring back “black gold” politics.

Chiu made public the phone numbers of the Presidential Office, KMT headquarters and the KMT legislative caucus and encouraged the public to call and complain.

Echoing Chiu, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said she was worried that the DPP’s efforts would be unsuccessful unless the public participated in the protest.

“We only occupy 27 seats. If [the KMT] does not change its mind, we will not be able to stop it,” she said.

Central Election Commission Chairman Chang Cheng-hsiung (張政雄) said yesterday that revising rules on election irregularity lawsuits could encourage vote-buying.

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