Sunflower movement leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) yesterday dropped out of the by-election for the legislative seat representing Miaoli County due to fears that past cases of sexual harassment would overshadow the political changes he and other like-minded people have sought to introduce.
Chen revealed on Tuesday that he was involved in two sexual harassment cases during his sophomore year and senior year in college, and was granted deferred prosecution for the first incident, triggering a polarized public reaction.
Chen said the decision to reveal the two acts of delinquency is a necessary examination of his personal integrity by the public, but due to personal cowardice he had been unable to completely come clean, adding that he had indeed committed similar incidents in the past.
Photo: Tsai Cheng-min, Taipei Times
His withdrawal came after a social media post accused him of groping a woman’s breast on a bus about six to eight years ago.
“I wish to extend my apologies to the women I have harmed in the past,” Chen said, adding that he was sorry that the indictments had been made public and caused more suffering to his victims.
“I know I have lied to society and to my supporters,” Chen said, adding that he was sad that the results of such confessions rendered him unable to clearly state his hopes and ideals for changing Miaoli County.
Despite the polarized reactions, Chen said he was nonetheless moved at the amount of support he had received, particularly from the crowd at a rally in Jhuolan Township (卓蘭) on Wednesday.
Chen said it was sad that the shadows of his past would have loomed over the elections and would potentially overshadow any policies he proposed, prompting him to drop his campaign bid.
However, Chen called on the media not to seek to invalidate all the demands made by student activists by citing these incidents.
Chen said he and the 200 to 300 volunteers recruited over the past months would continue to visit all 10 townships in the county and interview residents, seeking more in-depth understanding of what had happened in the townships in the past.
He said that despite his past actions casting a pall over future endeavors to better the county, he wished to call on his volunteers — all residents of Miaoli County — to continue their efforts and “finish what we started.”
Chen said he hoped that one day he would be able to face his past and become a better person, while offering his sincere apologies to those his actions had harmed.
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