Wed, Mar 13, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers claim innocence in vote-buying scandal

ACCUSATIONS Media reports quoted investigators as saying that they have evidence of bribery in the recent elections for speaker and vice speaker of the legislature

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

All concerned political parties and politicians were quick to claim their innocence yesterday, following a report that investigators have found evidence that some lawmakers took bribes to vote in favor of a certain candidate during the Feb. 1 elections for the Legislative Yuan speaker and vice speaker.

Also yesterday, Premier Yu Shyi-kun and Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) vowed to continue the investigation as long evidence of irregularities continue to come to light.

Chen promised political forces will not sway the investigation, which will continue regardless of which party may be involved in the case.

Yu and Chen made the remarks after lawmakers asked them if the investigation would continue even if DPP members were found to be involved in buying votes from the lawmakers.

According to the United Daily News, which cited unnamed sources from investigative authorities, investigators have found "unusual monetary flow" into bank accounts belonging to the relatives of five or six lawmakers, just a few days before the elections took place.

While the sum ranged from NT$5 million to NT$10 million, the benefactors were "crucial minority lawmakers" whose votes could affect the outcome of the races, the report said.

It did not identify the party that allegedly was responsible for buying votes from the lawmakers.

The paper, however, cited investigators as saying that the desire to win the close vice speakership race was what caused the party concerned to shell out money.

The KMT's Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤) and the DPP's Hong Chi-chang (洪其昌) garnered 111 and 108 votes respectively in the first round of balloting on Feb. 1.

In the second round, Chiang gained 115 votes, defeating Hong, who only garnered 106 votes.

A report suggested that independent lawmakers were possible recipients of the bribes. The legislators have denied receiving any money.

Independents led by Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁), Kao Meng-ting (高孟定) and Tsai Hau (蔡豪) said they suspected that the investigators were releasing false information deliberately in what they called a "conspiracy" to block a plan to form their own caucus in the legislature.

Chen admitted that independent lawmakers tend to play a crucial role because not a single party is able to control a steady majority in the legislature.

But this does not mean they take bribes, Chen said.

Wu Cheng-tien (吳成典), the New Party's only lawmaker, who intends to join the caucus to be formed by the independents, said he has never taken advantage of his special status in the legislature to earn ill-gotten gains.

Also responding to the report, KMT Secretary-general Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) affirmed that the KMT would never resort to vote-buying.

Lin expected prosecutors and investigative authorities to conduct a thorough probe into the matter.

Lin said he suspected that vote-buying was linked to the Feb. 19 ballot held at the Executive Yuan's request to reconsider amendments to the nation's revenue allocation law, suggesting that investigators look into that case as well.

The amendments were overturned after the pan-blue camp led by the KMT failed to garner half of the votes to uphold the amendments, although it outnumbered the rival pan-green camp led by the DPP by six votes.

Some lawmakers who had promised to vote to uphold the amendments abstained from voting on Feb. 19.

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