Mon, Feb 23, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Yu: No punishment requested

BALLOTS Yu Shyi-kun said that neither he nor the Cabinet will interfere with the authority of the national election board

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday dismissed talk that he had requested that the Central Election Commission (CEC) punish the head of the Taipei Election Commission (TEC) for its intention to implement referendum procedures at odds with those set by the CEC.

"The Cabinet will not interfere in this matter, as the CEC is the supervisory body of the local election commissions," Yu said.

"The CEC will continue to negotiate with local election commissions if there are different opinions regarding the election-day referendum," Yu said.

Yu made his remarks in response to reports that TEC head Pai Hsiou-hsiung (白秀雄), who is also one of Taipei City's two deputy mayors, might be removed from his post at the TEC for advocating that voting rules different from those set by the CEC be applied on March 20.

The city commission decided to have Taipei voters cast their ballots for the presidential election and for the referendum at different polling stations based on the idea that different laws apply to the two events.

The commission said that the move was aimed at reducing risks, simplifying procedures for casting ballots and allowing the voting to be carried out smoothly.

According to the CEC's rules, ballots for both the presidential election and the two referendum questions have to be picked up at one location.

The TEC also argued that presidential ballots placed in the referendum ballot boxes should be considered invalid, contradicting the decision made by the CEC.

Echoing Yu's comments, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should come out and face criticism instead of hiding behind Pai and making him a scapegoat.

"While the premier has never asked the CEC to punish Pai, Ma's political maneuvering in this matter is manifest," Lin said.

"I'm calling on Mayor Ma to stop misleading the public by spreading the rumor that the government is suppressing civil servants," Lin said.

Minister without Portfolio Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄), assigned by Yu to oversee the referendum issue, expressed similar views.

"It's obvious that decisions by certain local governments to separate presidential and referendum ballots are politically motivated because all of these local governments are governed by the pan-blue camp," he said.

Hsu said that local governments must abide by CEC regulations in implementing referendum procedures.

"We don't understand why certain local chiefs and CEC chapters are complicating and politicizing the issue," he said. "We won't allow any deviation from the polling procedures set by the CEC," Hsu said.

Pai called the Cabinet's warning a "threat" and "intimidation."

"I've been a civil servant for over 30 years and have never heard such a thing uttered by any government official," he said.

"I plan to visit CEC Chairman Huang Shih-cheng (黃石城) [Monday] and ask him whether the CEC has adopted this despotic measure through its decision-making process or a joint consultation."

In addition to Taipei City, the Hualien Election Commission (HEC) passed a resolution on Saturday to separate the presidential and referendum polls.

According to the HEC's resolution, voters will be asked to first pick up their presidential ballots and cast their votes and then come back and repeat the process for the referendum.

HEC Chairman Liao Hung-chih (廖鴻志) said that he was not bothered by the Cabinet's warning or worried about punishment.

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