Thu, Dec 26, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Election makes mockery of leaders' claims

VOTE-BUYING Last week KMT Chairman Lien Chan said his party was free of `black gold.' The results of the Kaohsiung speakership race suggest otherwise

STAFF WRITER

KMT and PFP Kaohsiung city councilors made a mockery of their leaders' vow to purge "black gold" yesterday by electing controversial independent councilor Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄) as Kaohsiung City Council speaker.

On Dec. 16, PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) said the KMT must shed its "black gold" image before cooperation between the two parties could succeed.

"If the KMT cannot deal with its `black gold' problem, cooperation with the PFP won't guarantee success [in the 2004 presidential election]," Chang said at a PFP orientation meeting.

But in yesterday's Kaohsiung City Council speakership election, six of the seven PFP councilors voted for scandal-ridden Chu.

Chu, a former Control Yuan member, was indicted in May 2000 in the Feng An Metal Company (峰安金屬) scandal.

Alleged illegal transactions in the scandal total NT$25 billion.

Prosecutors recommended that Chu be sentenced to a seven-year jail term.

Four days after Chang's criticism of the former ruling party, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) said the party had severed its ties to "black gold."

"The KMT has been disconnected from `black gold' since I took over as party chairman. It is groundless to say the KMT still has links to `black gold' given that the party has no more administrative resources," Lien said at a meeting of grassroots party officials in Kaohsiung County.

Yesterday in the same election, 11 of the 12 KMT city councilors supported Chu.

Of Kaohsiung City Council's 44 seats, the DPP occupies 14, the KMT controls 12, the PFP seven, the TSU two and independents nine.

Chu won the speakership with 25 votes. The DPP candidate, Kao Tzeng-ying (高宗英), received 14 votes and TSU candidate Yeh Chin-ling (葉津鈴) received two. Independent Tsai Sung-hsiung (蔡松雄), the KMT's Lee Fu-hsing (李復興) and the PFP's Wu Yi-cheng (吳益政) each got one vote.

With all DPP councilors showing their ballots, as per party orders, the picture is clear.

Tsai, Lee and Wu likely voted for themselves which means Chu received eight votes from independents, 11 votes from KMT councilors and seven from his PFP colleagues.

However, the DPP had to work to distance itself from "black gold," given that the party's council caucus had struck a deal with Chu in exchange for his support for the DPP's vice speaker candidate, Chang Ching-chuan (張清泉). Support for Chu only ended with a last-minute order from the party.

In a meeting of the DPP's Central Standing Committee on Tuesday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) reportedly threatened to put those who would dare to take bribes in jail.

The threat followed rumors that votes for speaker were being sold for up to NT$10 million and votes for vice speaker between NT$3 million and NT$5 million.

DPP Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) also reportedly threatened to expel members who defied party orders.

In a bid to defend the ruling party's image and to ensure that the party's orders were followed, Chang monitored the election in Kaohsiung personally.

Despite being the largest party on the council, the DPP won neither the speakership nor the vice speakership.

The moves by party headquarters contributed to the DPP's electoral failure as the order left the caucus little time to prepare a backup plan. Kao was chosen to represent the party in the speaker's race late Tuesday night.

Jan Yung-lung (詹永龍), the DPP's council whip, expressed regret after the election.

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