DPP accuses KMT of resorting to `non-traditional' tricks

By Ko Shu-ling, Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Fri, Mar 21, 2008 - Page 1

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) camp yesterday accused its rival of using "non-traditional" means to buy votes for the presidential election.

Hsieh said the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) intended to spend NT$470 million (US$15.3 million) and to mobilize at least 200,000 people during the vote.

"This is out-and-out vote-buying in disguised form," Hsieh said. "The country will not have any future if political parties buy their way into the Presidential Office."

Hsieh said the KMT would pay exuberant sums -- estimated at NT$240 million -- to people it would deploy at voting stations.

Voting captains would be handed NT$49 million while mobilization fees were estimated to amount to NT$180 million, he said.

Vote-buying is a legal issue, Hsieh said. Previously, vote-buying was direct distribution of cash, but now it is hidden in various forms and the KMT openly includes it in its campaign plan, he said.

Hsieh urged Taiwanese to reject vote-buying and encouraged them to tipoff the authorities. Those providing information leading to a conviction will receive a reward of NT$15 million.

Hsieh said the KMT should make public exactly how much it intends to spend.

"I would like to know where they're getting the money and how they plan to spend it," he said.

Asked where his party had obtained the information, Hsieh said "righteous people are everywhere."

"We might have overheard it at a coffee shop, but you would not believe me if I told you that," he said. "I can only tell you that there are still voices of justice in this world."

Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦), a Hsieh spokesman, said it did not matter where the information came from. The onus is on the KMT to prove that it has not engaged in such "dirty tricks."

Cheng described the incident as "the dirtiest of all dirty tricks" and called on the Ministry of Justice and the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office to step in and investigate. The DPP legislative caucus will also file a legal complaint today, he said.

Cheng said they are against vote-buying, "black-gold politics" and violence during the election.

Hsieh Hsin-ni (謝欣霓), a Hsieh spokesperson, said only the KMT can afford such expenses because it has party assets to fund the plan.

In response, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said yesterday that the party would not get involved in vote-buying or other illegal acts during the election.

Wu said the party's budget for the election was only one-third of the budget for the 2004 presidential election and that the KMT's bank accounts were transparent.

KMT Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) and Ma camp lawyer Lai Su-ju (賴素如) filed a lawsuit against Hsieh, charging him with violation of Article 90 of the President and Vice President Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法), which stipulates that "anyone who spreads rumors or untruths through words, pictures, recordings, speeches or other means in a bid to help or prevent a certain candidate from being elected will be subject to five years in prison."

KMT Organization and Development Committee director Liao Fung-te (廖風德) said the party had set up an "anti-dirty trick" program, which included the "Blue-Eagle," "Voting Booth" and the "Bee" projects.

Liao said the "Blue-Eagle" project is a training program with more than 40,000 volunteers who will be sent by the KMT to supervise vote counting at polling stations to prevent election fraud. Each volunteer will receive NT$1,000.

The "Voting Booth" project asks volunteers to solicit support by telephone before the election, while providing a pick-up service that would take disabled or elderly members to vote, he said.

KEY PERIODS

Party members are urged to cast their votes between 12pm and 1pm or between 3pm and 4pm and examine the situation at the voting booths, as election fraud would most likely occur during those periods, Lee said.

The "Bee" project, meanwhile, asks volunteers in the south to broadcast clarifications by the KMT to counter accusations and rumors spread by unlicensed pro-green radio stations.

Lai said the "Blue Eagle Project" was similar to a DPP program.

Yu Ta-wei (俞大衛), another Ma camp lawyer, accused Hsieh of "attempting to influence voters' decisions by making serious allegations less than 36 hours before the election, during which time voters have limited time to seek the truth."

"Hsieh's allegations are nonsense. Vote-buying means giving voters benefits in order to get their vote. The KMT's `Blue Eagle Project' has nothing to do with vote-buying," Yu said at a press conference.

LEGAL

Chang said providing voters with transportation to voting stations was legal, adding that many DPP legislators also offered transportation during the legislative primaries last year.

In related developments, the KMT established a 24-hour emergency management taskforce yesterday.

KMT deputy secretary-general Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) told a press conference that caucus members would be on duty around the clock ahead of the election.

"The DPP is expected to resort to many election-eve dirty tricks," Hsieh Kuo-liang said, adding that the party had established contacts with major government agencies such as the National Security Bureau in preparation for any election-eve emergencies.

Also yesterday, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said his camp would spare no effort to prevent dirty tricks, while dismissing a report in the Liberty Times that he had already picked future Cabinet members.

"I've asked all aides and staff not to discuss the post-election personnel issue. Whoever talked about the issue will be asked to leave my team," Ma said yesterday while campaigning in Kaohsiung.

The story said that Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), president of Soochow University and a former vice premier, would serve as premier and that Taoyuan County Commissioner Chu Li-lun (朱立倫) would be the deputy secretary-general of the Executive Yuan.