Court annuls Yunlin County poll victory, legislator loses seat

By Shelley Huang and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Jul 01, 2009 - Page 1

The Tainan branch of the Taiwan High Court yesterday annulled the election victory of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Chang Sho-wen (張碩文).

The ruling is final. Chang may not appeal.

Chang won a regional legislative seat in Yunlin County in January last year, but his defeated opponent, Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) of the Democratic Progressive Party, accused him of vote-buying and filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the election result.

After the Yunlin District Court annulled his election victory in November last year, Chang appealed the case to the Taiwan High Court.

The High Court’s ruling upheld the Yunlin District Court’s ruling to annul the election result, and confirms that Chang was aware of and had taken part in a vote-buying scheme organized by his father, Chang Hui-yuan (張輝元), the head of a local irrigation association, to solicit votes by offering cash bribes to voters.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said that the party would choose a candidate for the by-election in Yunlin within a week, adding that the party was confident of winning the legislative seat.

Cheng said that former KMT legislator Lee E-tin (李乙廷) from Miaoli County and Chang had both lost their seats because of vote-buying charges, and some KMT legislators’ vote-buying lawsuits were still pending in court.

He said the party asked that the courts rule on those cases soon and not delay them until the legislators in question had completed their terms.

Cheng criticized the KMT legislators for winning elections by bribing voters. Meanwhile, Yunlin County Deputy Commissioner Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), a DPP member, yesterday announced he was quitting his post to enter the race.

Chang issued a text message last night, saying that he had kept a low profile during the trial because he did not want to interfere in the judicial process, unlike his rivals.

Chang said he regretted the verdict but that he still believed in the judiciary.

He said that he felt wronged and could not agree with the court’s decision.

“Today marks a new beginning in my life. I will never give up,” he said.