Wed, Jul 30, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Ministry cracks down on vote-buying

STAFF WRITER

In a bid to crack down on vote-buying in Saturday's Hualien County commissioner by-election, Minster of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) yesterday announced that his ministry has transferred more than 400 police to the county to carry out random checks and searches, Chinese-language media reported yesterday.

Meanwhile, National Police Administration (NPA) Director-General Chang Si-liang (張四良) said police in Hualien have already reported 119 possible vote-buying cases including some involving the campaigns of all three leading candidates.

Five candidates are competing for the seat: candidate No. 1, Independent Wu Kuo-tung (吳國棟); No. 2, the Green Party's Chi Shu-ing (齊淑英); No. 3, the DPP's You Ying-lung (游盈隆); No. 4, the KMT-PFP alliance's Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山); and No. 5, Independent Hsu Chia-chen (許家琛).

Polls give Hsieh a comfortable lead over his two main rivals, Wu and You.

At a public security meeting in Hualien, Yu said he has transferred 464 police from Taipei and Kaohsiung cities to tackle vote-buying cases. The police will conduct frequent checks and searches 24 hours a day.

However, Yu's plan was immediately attacked by the opposition camp.

"The DPP is turning Hualien County into a police county," KMT Spokesman Alex Tsai (蔡正元) blasted. "By viewing all Hualien residents as thieves, the DPP's candidate will definitely lose the election this time."

In response to the criticism, Chang said the NPA will maintain its neutrality during the crackdown.

The police head also said that of the 119 vote-buying cases being dealt with by authorities, supporters of Hsieh, You and Wu are involved in at least some of them. According to Chang, local prosecutors are currently investigating these cases.

However, Chang's remarks were criticized as violating the "non-disclosure principle" of an ongoing investigation.

"The claim [of the possible cases] is bullshit!" said Yang Ta-chih (楊大智), a chief prosecutor in the Hualien District Prosecutors' Office, adding that many of the cases are, in fact, only rumors.

The chief prosecutor also condemned the Ministry of the Interior and the NPA for constantly interfering with local prosecutors' investigations.

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