Several members of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Hsinchu City chapter were summoned for questioning by prosecutors yesterday, as a judicial probe got under way to investigate allegations of vote-buying and other prohibited campaign activities at a year-end “thanksgiving” party hosted by the chapter on Saturday.
The Hsinchu District Prosecutors’ Office initiated the judicial probe after examining video footage and other evidence and 19 people were brought in to conduct the inquiry.
Among those summoned by prosecutors yesterday were KMT Hsinchu City chapter director Hsieh Po-yi (謝柏意), Hsinchu City Council caucus chief secretary Lin Keng-jen (林耕仁) and Hsinchu City Councilor Wu Ching-shan (吳青山).
Photo: Tsai Chang-sheng, Taipei Times
“We dispatched judicial police officers to monitor and video the proceedings at last Saturday’s banquet hosted by the KMT’s Hsinchu City chapter. The video footage was compiled onto CDs for examination by prosecutors,” Hsinchu District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Lin Li-chia (林李嘉) said.
Lin Keng-jen said the office had summoned the organizers of the banquet, guests, caterers and other companies that provided services at the event to clarify their roles and to investigate if vote-buying had occurred.
When questioned, Lin Keng-jen said he chaired the organizing committee for the event, which was a year-end “thanksgiving” banquet and party for KMT members and local residents.
“I have nothing to hide. The banquet was paid for out of my own money,” he said, adding that the banquet was not extravagant and that “regular fare” was served.
The banquet took place in the plaza of Hsinchu City’s Shulintou Night Market (樹林頭夜市) and the video footage showed KMT Hsinchu legislative candidate Cheng Cheng-chien (鄭正鈐) and KMT Secretary-General Lee Shu-chuan (李四川) walking between the tables wearing campaign vests, talking to diners in an apparent bid to solicit their support.
Cheng was quoted as saying that “as a member of KMT, it is natural for me to attend a banquet hosted by the party. I was invited by the organizers. I did not make a speech, nor did I distribute campaign material. I was only there to greet and talk briefly with local residents and I left shortly after it started.”
However, the competing legislative candidates in Hsinchu City did not see it that way and accused the KMT of vote-buying by treating local residents to lavish meals at a traditional banquet, at which 1,035 tables were set up for more than 10,000 guests.
Democratic Progressive Party anti-vote-buying supervision task force head Lian Li-jian (連立堅) said that banquet staff made every effort to coverup election campaigning, such as asking the crowd not to yell dongsuan (凍蒜) — a Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) phrase for “get elected” — “the chanting of the phrase still occurred.”
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