A controversial politician at the center of two "black gold" criminal investigations was elected as the council speaker of one of the nation's two special municipalities -- showing that politicians despise the public.
Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄), a former Control Yuan member and a re-elected Kaohsiung city councilor, was indicted in May, 2000 for the high-profile Feng An Metal Company (峰安金屬) financial scandal and was later charged with intending to buy votes during the Dec. 7 city councilor elections.
Prosecutors recommended that he serve a seven-year jail term for the former case and that he serve a two-year-and-four-month term for the second.
On Sunday, the DPP Kaohsiung city council caucus decided to support Chu for the speakership in exchange for his support for the DPP's candidate for the vice-speakership, Chang Ching-chuan (張清泉).
Besides, Chu promised to join the DPP by election day.
The DPP caucus' plan immediately triggered an outburst of anger in Kaohsiung, but the party authority did not seem to sense that.
Though the DPP's Kaohsiung chapter wasted no time to show its opposition to the caucus's decision by sending an urgent note to the DPP leadership, DPP headquarters did not react until Tuesday when a crowd of angry DPP members burned their party membership cards in front of the DPP's Kaohsiung offices.
Everywhere, Kaohsiung residents showed their disgust with what they saw as dirty politics.
A rumor was spread that a Kaohsiung-based pro-DPP newspaper reporter wrote an angry column against the DPP caucus, predicting the DPP's downfall in the 2004 presidential election if the caucus went ahead with its plan. But the article was not printed.
During Tuesday's DPP Central Standing Committee meeting, many Tainan and Kaohsiung-based lawmakers showed their outrage over the DPP caucus' plan, some party heavyweights tried to downplay the matter.
When the Central Standing Committee had decided to overrule the caucus' plan and DPP Secretary General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) had proposed rushing to Kaohsiung to make sure that the party's orders would be followed, a DPP heavyweight disagreed.
"It's too embarrassing that the Secretary General has to monitor the election himself," Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) was quoted by a colleague as saying.
"Do you suggest I should go myself?" replied President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is also the DPP chairman.
However, party officials from the South finally managed to make the party understand how grave the matter was.
On the other hand, the KMT and PFP neither nominated any candidate for the race, nor did they give any electoral guidelines to their members.
On Wednesday morning, when the results of the Kaohsiung city council speakership election came out, showing that most of the PFP and KMT's councilors had voted for Chu, PFP chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) was visiting Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), showing his desire to mend relations with the KMT star in an effort to cement his bid for the 2004 presidential election.
Wednesday afternoon, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) reacted to Chu's election. "Party members involved in the alleged bribery [NT$10 million allegedly paid by Chu] would be expelled. We urge an investigation into the allegations as soon as possible," said Lien -- as if it's OK to support Chu as long as bribery was not involved.
The PFP was silent, with no party leaders making any comment on the election.
Lien only turned tough yesterday when the local media devoted massive coverage to the issue and showed a lot of resentment over the incident. The KMT chairman ordered party members to unseat the newly elected Chu and to approve party officials' resignations.
However, Soong was the last to comment later yesterday, spouting party rhetoric about "the PFP's anti-black gold spirit" and urged the investigators to give a clear answer as soon as possible to whether his party members were involved in any bribery.
"Even if the PFP stopped existing, we would still stick to clean politics. If lawful, we support the KMT's proposal to unseat Chu," said Soong.
No further measures were announced by Soong, except that he approved of PFP Secretary General David Chung's (鍾榮吉) resignation.
Soong seems to be preoccupied only with his bid in the 2004 presidential election.
The party leaders' reactions are simply in reaction to the public's anger. The difference is that some are more sensitive to the people's feelings, while others reacted with mere hypocritical gestures.
But they all under-estimated the public's sentiment -- the people are really fed up with black-gold politics.
* On Sunday, the DPP-ruled Kaohsiung city council caucus decided to support Chu for the speakership in exchange for his support of the DPP's candidate for the vice-speakership, Chang Ching-chuan.
* The DPP caucus' plan immediately triggered outburst of anger in Kaohsiung, but the party authority did not seem to sense that. It only changed its plan on the eleventh hour.
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