DPP files election shooting suits

POLL MANIPULATION?:The DPP claims that members of the KMT’s campaign teams either hinted at rallies or on television shows that the DPP was behind the shooting

By Rich Chang and Flora Wang  /  Staff reporters

Sat, Jan 01, 2011 - Page 1

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday filed three lawsuits that seek to invalidate the elected status of the Taipei City, New Taipei City (新北市) and Greater Taichung mayors.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) won three out of five mayoral races on Nov. 27, just hours after KMT Central Committee member Sean Lien (連勝文) was shot at a campaign event.

“We think that the KMT campaign teams manipulated the shooting to their advantage and this affected the fairness of the election,” DPP spokesperson Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) told a press conference yesterday afternoon.

The three suits were filed separately yesterday afternoon.

The DPP’s Taipei mayoral candidate, Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), filed a lawsuit with the Taipei District Court against Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), the party’s New Taipei City mayoral candidate, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), filed a suit with the Banciao District Court against New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), and the party’s Taichung mayoral candidate, Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), filed a suit with the Taichung District Court against Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強).

“The victims in the case and the public have a right to know the truth. Finding the truth will maintain basic values in Taiwan and also avoid the nation’s democracy being jeopardized,” Cheng said.

Sean Lien, one of former vice president Lien Chan’s (連戰) sons, was shot in the face when participating at an election-eve rally for Chen Hung-yuan (陳鴻源), a KMT councilor candidate in New Taipei City.

The shooting led to an outpouring of sympathy votes for ruling party candidates during the election the next day, DPP lawmakers said after the incident.

The move was believed to have been motivated by a backlash from the DPP’s grassroots supporters, who were infuriated at the close loss in the Greater Taichung election.

Hu won by 2.2 percent of the vote, aided in part by the incident, DPP supporters claimed.

Cheng said the truth of the Nov. 26 shooting and its impact on the special municipality elections have to be examined in public hearings and that the democratic system would be strengthened through the independent legal process.

If the truth remains buried, or if the courts throw out the cases rashly, a sense of trust in Taiwanese society would collapse, he added.

Cheng said that right after the shooting occurred, members of the KMT’s campaign teams either hinted during campaign rallies or on television programs that the DPP was behind the shooting and called on voters to boycott the DPP’s candidates in the elections.

Their comments may have violated election laws as they allegedly manipulated the elections by sending voters incorrect messages, Cheng said.

To maintain the fairness of the electoral system and to avoid such incidents from reoccurring, the DPP believes that filing the lawsuits to annul the election results is in the public interest, he added.

Cheng said that after the election results were announced, the DPP did not launch a protest immediately because at the time it was hoping that the judicial authorities would use their full power to investigate the Sean Lien shooting case.

“However, it’s been more than a month since the shooting, yet the truth remains to be clarified and much of the information [on the shooting] has not been made public,” Cheng said. “The party believes filing the lawsuits is reasonable and justified.”In response, KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) accused the DPP of using the lawsuits to excuse its defeat in the elections and said the KMT would not play along with the tactic.

“The DPP is not willing to accept the election results and trust the choices the voters made. The KMT has no comment on the DPP’s move to find an excuse for its -election defeats,” he said.

Earlier yesterday, the KMT caucus blocked a DPP caucus proposal to establish an investigative panel at the legislature to probe the shooting of Sean Lien and the election-eve assassination attempt in 2004 on then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and then-vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

During a plenary session, the DPP caucus proposed that the measure skip the preliminary -review and top the agenda of items scheduled to be reviewed yesterday and on Tuesday.

However, the KMT caucus immediately referred the proposal to cross-party negotiation.

In accordance with legislative regulations, the proposal will not be able to be put to a second and third reading until a one-month negotiation period is over.

KMT caucus secretary-general Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) told reporters after the plenary session concluded that the two shootings were different cases and therefore they should not be investigated together.

“The public may think that we were afraid of putting the shooting [of Sean Lien] under investigation, but we want to find out the truth. It is just that the two cases happened at different times and under different conditions. One of them was staged, while the other one was real,” Lin said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MO YAN-CHIH, VINCENT Y. CHAO AND AFP