“Other county government employees have also been instructed to focus on their work and cooperate with the probe. We hope the prosecutors can ascertain the truth as soon as possible,” Cho Po-yuan said.
Meanwhile, the county government said the bidding for monthly calendars and reusable bags were aimed at advertising the lantern festival and other activities held in the county and did not run counter to any standard protocols.
The ongoing probe also underscores Cho Po-yuan’s perceived ambition to become the KMT’s candidate for mayor of Greater Taichung in next year’s seven-in-one elections, because most of the reusable bags and monthly calendars were found to have been sent as souvenirs to residents and several borough chiefs in the administrative region.
Cho Po-yuan’s tactics of garnering public support and local backing by giving out free gifts was also seen in December 2011, when he gave away monthly calendars to Taichung residents and a six-piece bowl set to borough chiefs in the area under the pretext of advertising for last year’s lantern festival and “being a good neighbor.”
The move spawned widespread speculation about Cho Po-yuan’s political agenda, particularly when other cities and counties adjacent to Changhua were not given the same “neighborly” treatment.
Before the controversy died down, Cho Po-yuan sent another gift set featuring a plate and four reusable bags printed with his self-composed poem to Taichung’s borough chiefs in February last year, stirring up further controversy in the region’s political arena.
“Instead of administering affairs in his own administrative region, Cho Po-yuan is giving presents to Taichung all the time,” Greater Taichung Councilor Ho Wen-hai (何文海) of the Democratic Progressive Party said at the time.
Rather than exercising restraint amid criticism, Cho Po-yuan started holding “occasional small gatherings” in Taichung since the second half of last year.
The county government also doled out yet more environmentally friendly bags during the annual Flower of Sea Festival organized by the Greater Taichung Government in Sinshe District (新社) at the end of last year.
Additional reporting by Wu Wei-kung