Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), son of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who was stripped of his Greater Kaohsiung councilor position after being found guilty of perjury, said yesterday the court’s sentence amounted to political persecution.
The younger Chen lost his job after the Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced him to three months in jail for perjury in a case related to his father’s state affairs fund case.
Chen Chih-chung issued a statement saying he could not accept the sentence and he did not believe those who voted for him would accept it either, because the public could not allow political vendettas to be carried out “to such an extent.”
He said although the sentence could not be commuted to a fine, it could be served through a form of community service.
Nevertheless, the Executive Yuan was quick to cite the Local Government Act (地方制度法) and strip him of his councilor position, “so I cannot help but suspect the government’s motives,” he said.
He said he was carrying his “family’s original sin,” a reference to his father being jailed for corruption.
In spite of the “political persecution,” he would be “even stronger,” he said, because the public would support him and justice would eventually prevail.
The unjust regime of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will be overthrown by Taiwanese, who will vote for a third transfer of power, from the KMT to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), next year, he said.
When asked at a press conference later in the day if he would run for a legislative seat in January’s elections, he said he would have to consult with his father first.
Huang Li-hsin (黃麗馨), director of the Ministry of the Interior’s Department of Civil Affairs, said Chen Chih-chung’s eligibility to run in January’s legislative elections depended on when he completes his three-month jail term.
Huang said Chen Chih-chung could appeal to keep his councilor job, but there is no precedent for local government councilors being successful in such appeals. However, there are many examples of city or county councilors being removed from their posts.
More than 10 city and county councilors have also been removed during the current term of office, she said, adding that on average 20 to 30 elected officials were removed in every term of office because they were found to have broken the law.
However, some DPP supporters have questioned why Chen Chih-chung was not given a chance to delay the imposition of his sentence or have it commuted to a fine, either of which would have allowed him to keep his post.
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the law needs to be reviewed because Chen Chih-chung was deprived of his status as a councilor for committing a misdemeanor.
In response to a question, she said it was unlikely Chen Chih-chung, who is no longer a member of the DPP, could represent the party in January’s polls because the party has completed its legislative nomination process in Greater Kaohsiung.
DPP lawmakers also described the Executive Yuan’s action as “political persecution” by the KMT.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said both KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) and Independent Legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標) were able to serve jail terms without losing their eligibility as legislators.
Noting the quickness with which the Ministry of Interior issued a statement to say Chen Chih-chung would lose his council seat, just a few hours after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on Wednesday, DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said: “While the post-Typhoon Morakot reconstruction remains far behind schedule, I’m amazed at the ministry’s efficiency in its handling of this case.”