Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said he would not attend any of the municipality’s city council meetings until corruption cases against newly elected council speaker Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) are settled.
Lai made the announcement as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Greater Tainan councilors boycotted the interim city council meeting yesterday. DPP councilors on Sunday said Lee had called an extraordinary meeting as a pretext for not appearing in court for a case that was to be heard yesterday. Lee later denied that the calling of the extraordinary meeting was politically motivated or initiated by him.
Lai said Tainan is the mecca of democracy in Taiwan, something that residents have always been proud of.
Photo: Tsai Wen-chu, Taipei Times
However, this pride has been harmed by Lee, whose position as a councilor is in question, after the Tainan District Prosecutors’ Office filed corruption charges against him on Wednesday last week seeking to invalidate his victory in the city council election on Nov. 29 last year, Lai said, adding that the office has also launched an investigation into alleged ballot-buying in the council speaker election.
Lee is the first politician in the nation’s history of self-governance to be simultaneously involved in bribery charges in both city councilor and council speaker elections, Lai said, calling Lee a disgrace to Tainan. Lee had transformed Tainan City Council, a sanctuary of democracy, into a shelter, Lai added.
Lai then spoke against New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), the sole candidate for the Jan. 17 KMT chairman election, for what he described as failure to respond to public calls for change after the party’s defeat in the nine-in-one elections by choosing to stand in solidarity with Lee, a person involved in double bribery cases, when Chu visited Tainan on Sunday.
Photo: Hung Jui-chin, Taipei Times
Lai also criticized Chu for speaking against the judicial system as “being manipulated by certain people.”
“Not only did he trample on the justice system, he embraced ‘black money,’” he said, referring to the alleged bribery.
“At [Monday’s] meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee, the amendment bill to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) to have council speakers and deputy council speakers elected by open registered ballots got blocked by KMT legislators. It is extremely disappointing that the KMT has again chosen to be absent on the road to reform,” Lai said.
Photo: Tsai Wen-chu, Taipei Times
He said he had no choice but to support the residents of Tainan by refusing to enter the disgraced council until the cases are settled.
Lee responded by saying that the mayor’s remarks were made “on impulse,” adding that the interim council meeting was called to serve the public on various issues such as food safety, organizational restructuring and the urban-rural divide.
“There have only been instances of the city council speaking scathingly against the municipality government; it should not take place in the opposite direction,” Lee said.
As for accusations leveled by DPP Legislators Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) and Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) that funding from China was involved in the council speaker election, Lee said that if the two are willing to give up their legislative immunity, he would be “a coward if he does not dare to sue them.”
BUSY DAY: The same day the USS ‘Barry’ passed through the Strait, Taiwan was ending its Han Kuang military exercises, while China said it conducted an exercise near Taiwan A US Navy ship on Friday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the ninth time a US military vessel has transited the Strait since US President Joe Biden took office in January. The USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit through the Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the journey through international waters was conducted “in accordance with international law.” “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Navy said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.” The Ministry
FRUIT SPAT: The COA said China had not given evidence for halting wax and custard apple imports, adding that it would spend NT$1bn on promoting sales of the fruit Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns. China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today. China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the