The heads of local municipalities and cities are obligated by law to report to city councils for questioning, Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) said yesterday, adding that it would be a direct violations of the law for Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) not to attend council meetings, as Lai said he would not until charges of alleged corruption against Tainan Council Speaker Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) are resolved.
Lai said on Tuesday that corruption charges filed against Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) member Lee have “tarnished the image of Greater Tainan as a symbol of Taiwanese democracy,” adding he would not set foot in the council halls until a legal resolution for the charges has been reached.
Lai said he would take “full legal responsibility for his actions” and was directly accountable to the people of the municipality.
Photo: Huang Hsin-po, Taipei Times
Lee’s former rival in the city’s eighth constituency, DPP member Wang Chun-tan (王峻潭) claimed that Lee had bought votes ahead of the Nov. 29 nine-in-one elections last year and called for Lee’s majority to be declared void.
The motion — if substantiated — would remove Lee as council speaker and allow the DPP a chance to regain the seat after a number of party members voted against DPP orders on the position.
Lai said he sought to preserve the dignity of Greater Tainan even at the cost of his own reputation, adding that he hoped his actions would expose the problems plaguing the local government.
In response to Chen’s claims, Lai said he hoped the minister would pay more attention to why the local elections were saturated with vote-buying — even for the speakership position.
Meanwhile, reporters questioned Lai on Sunday about a meeting between Lee and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) at a press conference in Tainan.
Lai said that it remains to be seen whether the public could accept someone who would sing You are My Brother — a Taiwanese-language song — with someone who is being investigated for vote buying.
Chu, who is the KMT’s sole candidate for party chairman, and Lee sang the song together.
“If the media will not criticize the event, I’m sure the people will,” Lai said.
Meanwhile, DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) asked whether Chen Wei-zen endorsed Lee’s comments that he would “rather die to prove himself” if the judiciary rules his election void.
Chen Wei-zen said such comments are not to be encouraged, adding that Lee should cooperate with the investigation and accept the judiciary’s eventual ruling.
DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) started a signature drive yesterday in support of Lai’s resolution to not enter the Greater Tainan City Council before the case is resolved.
The council should not be a shield for Lee to hide behind, especially since he is both a councilor and the speaker, Chen Ting-fei said.
Chen Ting-fei said forms could be signed at two of her offices and an Internet version would be made available, adding that she would also give a copy of the signature drive to Lai so he would know that the people are behind him.
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