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Tue, Oct 16, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Police on lookout for vote buyers

DEC. 1 ELECTIONS The interior minister said the police should stop at nothing to crack down on vote buying and that it was crucial they be given sufficient resources

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Police should stop at nothing to crack down on vote buying, including pulling over the "black lim-ousines" of politicians on election day to check for illegal handouts, the Minister of the Interior Chang Po-ya (張博雅) said yesterday.

"Even a black limousine on the streets should be stopped and checked if our law-enforcement officials think the vehicle looks suspicious," Chang said.

Chang made the remarks yesterday at a seminar hosted by the Taiwan Police College.

The interior minister noted that an anonymous lawmaker once boasted that he would dare to drive his black limousine to deliver vote-buying money -- even though law-enforcement officials vowed to crack down on the practice.

"Because investigators and police officers know these black limousines belong to important people, they assume these people wouldn't be involved in any wrong-doing," Chang said.

"This attitude should be corrected from now on," she said. "And our police officers as well as investigators will have the power to enforce the law when necessary."

Chang said it was important that police be given sufficient resources to crack down on vote buying.

Once as mayor of Chiayi, Chang received a tip about a vote-buying case. She contacted a local prosecutor hoping that the suspects would be captured at the scene.

But while prosecutors took the information, the case wasn't followed up.

After three more phone calls, the prosecutor told her, "we do not have enough manpower at this moment."

In related news, the Ministry of Justice yesterday unveiled a program in which tipsters would receive NT$10 million for providing information on vote-buying related to the legislative races.

The ministry will pay NT$5 million if a suspect is found guilty after his first trial. The remainder would be paid after the final verdict is received.

Rewards for tip-offs related to the presidential election were as high as NT$15 million, while the pay-off is NT$5 million in councilor elections. The rewards will be paid from the Ministry of Justice's annual budget.

Wang Chin-wang (王進旺), director-general of the National Police Administration, called on candidates yesterday to draw voters with their political agendas rather than resorting to vote-buying or intimidation.

"We have said more than once that this is for real this time," Wang said of the government's efforts to ensure clean elections during the Dec. 1 polls.

"The police definitely have the ability and determination to fight bribery, and we will not give up any case -- no matter who it is and where it is."

Through yesterday, the National Police Administration had received 365 reports of election-related wrong-doing.

Ten are related to violence and 113 are currently under investigation by local prosecutors.

In the meantime, police are monitoring 323 telephone numbers of candidates under suspicion.

Taipei and Chiayi prosecutors officially established yesterday special investigation centers to take vote-buying complaints.

"We will pull them off their posts if these candidates do buy votes," said Shih Mao-lin (施茂林), head prosecutor of Taipei District Prosecutors' Office.

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