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Fri, Nov 23, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Legislative candidate makes vote-buying history

BUSTED DPP lawmaker Hsu Chih-ming is the first legislative candidate in Taiwan to be indicted before election day -- for giving steel pots to 3,000 voters

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP lawmaker Hsu Chih-ming (徐志明) yesterday became the first legislative candidate in Taiwan to be indicted for vote-buying before election day.

In the past, local prosecutors have indicted vote captains and campaign assistants for vote-buying prior to elections, but candidates had managed to avoid prosecution until after the elections.

Incumbent lawmakers can be convicted of criminal offences but cannot be jailed until the end of their elected term. Therefore, Hsu will be eligible for imprisonment at the end of his legislative term on Jan. 31 next year -- if he is not elected on Dec. 1.

According to the indictment, Hsu -- after his nomination as the DPP's legislative candidate for Kaohsiung County at the end of April -- told his campaign manager, Tsai Tung-lin (蔡東霖), to order 3,000 stainless steel pots, worth NT$150 each, to give to voters.

After purchasing the pots, Tsai distributed them to five campaign assistants at branch offices in Kaohsiung County.

Prosecutors are asking for a sentence of two years and two months for Hsu; one year for Tsai and campaign assistants Lin Te-yuan (林德源) and Hsieh Yao-hsien (謝耀賢); and seven months for campaign assistants Kao Tien-yin (高天寅), Chiang Shan-kuo (蔣神國) and Chuang Hsien-te (莊先得).

Hsu's indictment followed hot on the heels of Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan's (陳定南) announce-ment yesterday morning that, "Our law enforcement officers will definitely indict some candidates before polling day. Let's wait and see."

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Hsu protested his innocence. "It's not fair to indict me like this," he said.

"How could the prosecutors indict me without summoning me for questioning in advance?" Hsu asked. "Besides, I didn't give these stainless steel pots away. All the recipients were selected in draws when they attended our campaign activities. They got lucky, that's all.

"It seems to me that the pro-secutors from Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office singled me out," he said.

"Actually, since I was elected as a lawmaker in 1998, these investigators have watched me closely to see whether I might do something illegal. Each time, haven't the judges said that I was free to go? That means I have not done anything illegal, including vote-buying."

Chang Chien Chin-sheng (張簡金生), head of Hsu's campaign headquarters, told the Taipei Times, "Hsu has been in and out of the courts more than a hundred times in the last three years and each time he has been acquitted."

Responding to Hsu's remarks, Kaohsiung Prosecutor Lin Ching-tsung (林慶宗) said that investigators had collected sufficient evidence and no further discussion was necessary.

"We have interviewed the recipients of the gifts as well as Hsu's vote captains," said Lin.

"They all admitted that everybody at his campaign activities received a ticket that could be exchanged for a pot. In other words, anyone who took part in Hsu's campaign activities could get a pot worth NT$150."

Hsu's campaign headquarters issued a statement saying that the controversial lawmaker remains a legislative candidate for the Dec. 1 elections.

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