Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Police are `ready to keep public order' during the election

LAW AND ORDER The national police said that it would be ready to ensure there was no public disorder before or after the presidential election

AGENCIES , TAIPEI

The National Police Administra-tion (NPA) yesterday inaugurated an electronic command center designed to help the police maintain public order nationwide before, during and after today's election and referendum.

NPA Director-General Chang Si-liang (張四良) presided over a meeting at the administration's headquarters yesterday to discuss nationwide law enforcement during the election.

Chang held a teleconference with authorities from police headquarters throughout the nation to gain a better understanding of their local security situation on the eve of today's election.

He instructed police authorities around the nation to prepare themselves for any contingencies in the event of scuffles or post-election riots.

Chang said the electronic command center will help police to monitor public order nationwide in real time.

A senior police official said "one could hardly imagine what frantic supporters might do" with campaigning so close.

One fanatical supporter of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) climbed a 90m radio tower in Taichung late Thursday, waving an election flag, local television said.

The man, surnamed Hsu, remained there for seven hours demanding to talk to a reporter from CNN until he finally gave himself up to police.

"I hope Chen could be re-elected. He may lose," he said as he was led away.

Meanwhile, officers from the NPA's public security division said that in light of reports that international terrorists have included Taiwan as a possible target, the administration has heightened surveillance nationwide, particularly in public places.

Surveillance of public transportation systems, infrastructure systems, airports and seaports will also be stepped up, officials said.

In related news, police said they are investigating nearly 2,000 cases of violence and bribery to try to influence the election, but have declined to specify the number of allegations made against each camp in the nation's two-horse race.

Officers said they did not believe the candidates, Chen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), had anything to do with the alleged vote-buying cases.

"The suspects were found to have offered gifts, cash and free trips to voters in return for their support in Saturday's presidential polls," said Commissioner Hou Yo-yi (侯友宜) of the Criminal Investigation Bureau.

People convicted of vote-buying can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to NT20 million (US$600,000).

The authorities are offering rewards of up to NT$15 million to anyone who can prove a presidential candidate was buying votes.

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