Thu, Jul 31, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Opposition slams anti-corruption force

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Opposition legislators yesterday criticized the size of the Ministry of Interior's anti-corruption task force in Hualien County, alleging the group is undermining residents' integrity and human rights.

"While we support the importance of keeping the by-election clean, we think [Minister of the Interior] Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) has overdone it and is showing off," said KMT legislative leader Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻), referring to the number of extra police officers deployed to Hualien ahead of Saturday's Hualien County commissioner by-election and the scale of the police operations.

In a bid to crackdown on vote-buying in the by-election, Yu announced on Tuesday that the ministry had dispatched more than 400 police officers from other counties to Hualien.

Task force members are serving as sentries at 24-hour checkpoints on roads and major intersections, as well as patrolling villages.

"The large scale police force has turned Hualien into a kingdom of police," Liu said. "The overt presence of a large number of police officers has made locals feel insecure -- they feel as though they are back in the martial-law era."

The addition law-enforcement personnel are in Hualien to support a total of 1,277 local policemen assigned to anti-vote-buying duties.

According Yu, an additional 5,200 policemen are standing by to ensure that campaign misconduct will be eradicated in the county.

In view of the number of investigations into vote-buying allegations in the county's villages and townships, PFP legislative caucus deputy convener Chiu Yi (邱毅) said the DPP had resorted to acts that were close to human-rights violations in a bid to win the election.

"Locals are being humiliated, making it seems as if Hualien people are all guilty of committing crimes," Chiu said.

In response to the criticism, Yu emphasized that all searches and checks are based on reasonable suspicion.

"There will be no violation of the Constitution or the law," Yu said.

He said the task force has helped restrict vote-buying efforts.

In view of the tight race in Hualien, Yu said having police on 24-hour duty in order to keep the by-election free of vote buying was done according to the law.

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