Tue, Jul 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Campaigning ministers criticized

OVERTIME The KMT wants to know whether ministers who have been traveling to Hualien are using public funds to campaign for DPP candidate You Ying-lung

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien, standing, speaks at a seminar held at a police station in Hualien yesterday. Yu said the county police bureau has formed a 150-member team to deal with vote-buying or violence in the Hualien County commissioner by-election.

PHOTO: YANG YI-CHUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Cabinet has come under fire for allegedly violating administrative neutrality after a number of ministers traveled during the past week to Hualien County, where campaigning is underway for the commissioner by-election next month.

The KMT legislative caucus demanded that the Cabinet's Central Personnel Administration -- which is responsible for the nation's civil service -- provide details of the expenses Cabinet officials had claimed this month.

"By examining these expense statements, we want to investigate whether these Cabinet members, by visiting Hualien, have in any way used government resources to campaign for DPP candidate You Ying-lung (游盈隆)," KMT legislative whip Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) said yesterday.

"Under the pretext of sponsoring government events and the like, central government officials such as Council for Hakka Affairs Chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) and Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) were actually there to campaign for You," Liu said.

Yeh went to Hualien on Friday to promote a Hakka television channel which launched earlier this month.

Yu was in Hualien yesterday inspecting the region's anti-vote-buying efforts for the by-election, which will be held on Aug. 5. It was Yu's fifth visit to the county this month.

Asked to comment on his frequent trips to the county, Yu said he needed to visit Hualien to oversee preparations for the by-election.

Also in Hualien yesterday were Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊) and Council of Aboriginal Affairs Chairman Chen Chien-nien (陳建年). They were inspecting an employment workshop for the area's Aborigines.

The KMT legislative caucus said it also wanted Diana Chen (陳敏薰), chairwoman of the China Development Financial Holding Co (中華開發金控), to be included in the probe. Chen visited the county on Sunday to campaign for Yu.

KMT Legislator Kuo Tien-tsai (郭添財) said the public had the right to know whether government officials were using public money to travel to Hualien for purposes other than work.

The KMT legislators invited Wu San-ling (吳三靈), secretary-general of the Central Personnel Administration, to a press conference yesterday, at which Wu agreed to provide the expense statements they requested by today.

Wu, however, stressed that unless the government officials had clearly used public money to campaign for You while they were in Hualien, there was nothing the Central Personnel Administration could do.

When asked about the KMT's accusations, the Cabinet officials said they were doing nothing wrong.

Chen Chu said that she was "clear about where to draw the line and therefore will not use government funds to carry out campaigning work."

Chen Chien-nien said, "It's a sensitive time to visit Hualien. But I think it is OK for central government officials to campaign for a candidate as long as it is done during their own personal leisure time."

You dismissed the criticism, saying that the government officials had done nothing wrong in campaigning for him during their free time.

"Besides, people in Hualien have often called on the central government to care more about them and pay attention to them," You said. "So we should welcome them and not raise questions about their intent in visiting Hualien."

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