District court annuls contested result of Kaohsiung election

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sat, Jun 16, 2007 - Page 1

The Kaohsiung District Court yesterday annulled the result of last December's Kaohsiung mayoral election, which was decided by just 1,114 votes.

The court ruled in favor of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) candidate Huang Chun-ying (黃俊英), who accused his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rival Chen Chu (陳菊) of violating campaign regulations.

The court also decided that the election had to be held again.

The verdict was announced at the court at 5pm yesterday.

Chen said she will appeal.

"The ruling was unreasonable," she said at a press conference last night. "I would let everyone know I am the legal mayor and I will strive for the final justice."

Vice Interior Minister Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) said last night that Chen's mayoral post, according to the Law on Local Government Systems (地方制度法), would remain unaffected because yesterday's ruling is not the final verdict in the case, which can still be appealed.

The Taiwan High Court is expected to take about six months to deliver a second verdict, which would be final.

Huang filed two lawsuits in December upon losing the election -- the first sought to annul the election result because of vote-rigging and the second accused Chen of profiting from an election eve smear campaign.

Judges rejected the first suit but upheld the second.

"The judges accepted Huang's argument that Chen's [vote-buying accusations] had a serious impact on the result, so they decided to annul Chen's victory," said Tu Yu-tou (涂裕斗), spokesman for the Kaohsiung District Court.

Huang called the decision "belated justice."

"I appreciate it, although it is a little late," Huang said.

"The whole idea of the case is to remind everybody that it is wrong to throw bogus accusations at your opponents. I hope that it will not happen again," Huang said.

Reacting to the ruling, DPP Legislator William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said "it's astonishing, regrettable, unbelievable and unacceptable."

"Kaohsiung prosecutors have already proven the `walking fee' [走路工] accusation to be true; so how can a person who paid voters win the case, while the person who exposed the incident loses?" Lai asked at a press conference.

"On the behalf of the [DPP] caucus, I advise Chen to appeal," DPP caucus whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) told the press conference.

However, not everyone agreed.

"In a case like this, justice can only be rendered by votes, not the law," said DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) at a separate press conference.

"I suggest that Chen Chu not appeal, but leave the decision to Kaohsiung voters," she said.

The KMT yesterday lauded the ruling and urged Chen to leave her post temporarily.

"We are grateful for the ruling ? The result not only returns justice to Kaohsiung residents, but also returns justice to all Taiwanese people," KMT Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said in a statement.

While calling yesterday "a dark day for the judiciary," KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) praised the Kaohsiung Court's decision.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LOA IOK-SIN AND MO YAN-CHIH

Also see story:
Editorial: Kaohsiung City: Here we go again