Tue, Jul 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Special team to police Hualien election

CNA , HUALIEN

Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) said yesterday he has ordered the formation of a 150-member ad hoc police team to deal with vote-buying or violence in the Hualien County magistrate by-election.

Yu made the remarks during an inspection tour of the Hualien County Police Bureau. He traveled from Taipei to Hualien early yesterday morning to inspect preparations for the Aug. 2 vote.

Yu said the Ministry of the Interior is determined to maintain a clean, violence-free environment for the by-election, which is viewed by many as a prelude to next year's presidential election.

In addition to ordering various branches of the Hualien County Police Bureau to form special work panels, Yu said the National Police Administration (NPA) will organize a 150-member team to investigate vote-buying allegations and prevent violence in campaign activities.

If necessary, Yu said, the NPA can mobilize up to 5,200 reserve police officers to assist in cracking down on vote-buying and violence in the by-election.

In the past, candidates in Hualien liked to offer giveaways or throw banquets with sumptuous pork dishes to court voters. Yu reminded hopefuls not to throw pork banquets to buy votes. Otherwise, he said, police will not hesitate to crack down on such rule-breaking activities.

With the voting day approaching, all three hopefuls -- the pan-blue camp's Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山), the DPP's You Ying-lung (游盈隆) and Wu Kuo-tung (吳國棟), a former Hualien county magistrate who has been expelled by the KMT due to his maverick electoral bid -- have launched all-out campaigns.

Hualien is a KMT stronghold, with the party controlling the county's commissioner post uninterrupted for the past five decades.

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