Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) spokespersons yesterday urged voters unhappy with the acquittal of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), on money laundering and corruption charges to vent their displeasure on Nov. 27, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of attempting to “hijack” the judiciary.
KMT Legislator Lin Yi-shih (林益世) urged the DPP’s mayoral candidates in the special municipality elections to explain their position on Friday’s court ruling, adding: “Please tell the electorate whether you think people who take bribes should be acquitted.”
Lin called on the DPP caucus to help pass the Judges’ Act in the legislature. The committee review of the bill has been brought forward from next week to this week.
Lin also urged voters to go to the polls, saying the message they send will signal their expectations of the judiciary.
While KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) described Judge Chou Chan-chun’s (周占春) verdict as “gutsy,” she said it represented “covert encouragement” for public servants to commit graft.
The Taipei District Court said it found no evidence that Chen took NT$600 million (US$20 million) in exchange for promises not to block separate mergers initiated by Cathay Financial Holdings (國泰金控) and Yuanta Financial Holdings (元大金控).
“As long as you are skillful, you don’t have to take the money, but your wife and relatives can accept it on your behalf because they don’t have any direct connection with your job,” Hung said. “It’s unbelievable to see such a ruling.”
Some people have been so disappointed that they have decided not to vote, Hung said.
“If you stay home, the government that made you so angry will return to power,” she said. “The real reason why the DPP wants to win all five mayoral seats is that they want to protect Chen’s judicial rights. If the DPP wins the elections, corruption will be rampant, but not a single corrupt public servant will be held responsible. Is this what you really want?”
KMT Legislator Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和) said that if the KMT loses the elections, Taiwan would become a “corrupt island” and a “dishonest country.” Saying he was “shocked” to see the judiciary become “Chen’s personal hit men,” Chung urged voters to come out to banish “dinosaur judges” and protect the judicial system.
“The ruling clears the name of the KMT, which has been accused of using the judicial system to serve its own interests,” he said.
KMT Legislator Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) said there was a significant gap between the verdict and public opinion since various opinion polls showed a majority of respondents were unhappy with the verdict.
KMT Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) said a private group calling itself the anti-corruption alliance placed a half-page ad in the Chinese-language China Times and United Daily News yesterday criticizing the ruling and urging voters to use their ballots to recover Taiwan’s honesty and justice.
Fai urged the DPP’s Taipei mayoral candidate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Sinbei City mayoral candidate (and DPP Chairperson) Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to say where they stood on the issue.
Fai also challenged Su to renew his claims that the corruption accusations against Chen were politically motivated.
Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), a former DPP member, broke his silence to slam the verdict.
Approached for comment after visiting former Kaohsiung mayor Su Nan-cheng (蘇南成) for support, Yang said the verdict failed to live up to public expectations, and that it was wrong to take money from other people.
Yang’s campaign spokeswoman Tseng Yin-li (曾尹儷) told reporters at a separate setting that Yang used to support Chen because he did not know the former president was “so corrupt.”
Yang left the DPP to run as an independent.
Meanwhile, KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), who is running for mayor of Greater Kaohsiung, urged the Control Yuan to censure Taipei District Court presiding Judge Chou Chan-chun (周占春) over the Chen verdict.
Huang and KMT caucus secretary-general Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) went to the Control Yuan to accuse Chou of neglecting his duties.
Meanwhile, the DPP said the latest moves by KMT politicians targeting Chou were an attempt to “hijack” the judiciary.
“Just because they are unhappy with the ruling, [the KMT] is willing to undermine the [independence] of the judiciary,” DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said.
DPP lawmakers said the KMT’s reaction, along with an “anti-corruption” rally the KMT is planning for Nov. 21, appear to be motivated by the upcoming elections.
Additional reporting by Flora Wang and Vincent Y. Chao
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