Fri, Dec 02, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Pan-green split in Nantou helps KMT

THREE-WAY RACE Allegations of vote-buying against two candidates, a complaint about breach of trust and fist-fights have enlivened the county commissioner campaign

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Nantou County commissioner election is a unique one, with a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate and a former DPP candidate battling one another as well as a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rival.

It is widely believed that if the three-way situation continues, it will be more to the advantage of the KMT's candidate, Nantou City Mayor Lee Chao-ching (李朝卿).

Lee, however, has to overcome allegations that his wife, Chien Su-tuan (簡素端), has been conducting vote-buying activities on his behalf.

Chien had reportedly been giving out free gifts since July an an effort to persuade voters to support her husband. She has denied the allegations and is now out on bail of NT$1.5 million (US$44,753).

Previous vote-buying allegations have also come back to haunt Lee as his opponents have not hesitated to remind the electorate. When Lee sought re-election four years ago, many of his supporters, including vote captains, were questioned about vote-buying and at least nine of them were convicted.

Lee's main rival is Nantou County Commissioner Lin Tsung-nan (林宗男), who dropped out of the DPP in August in order to run as an independent.

The former member of the DPP's Central Standing Committee refused to step aside after losing the party primary to Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯).

When Lin was elected four years ago, he became the first DPP commissioner in the county's history, garnering more than 94,000 votes, or 30,000 to 50,000 more than his pan-blue contenders.

Running as an independent is not necessarily a hindrance for Lin, since his predecessor Peng Pai-hsien (彭百顯) had also dropped out of the DPP to run for the county's top post in 1997. Lin became the first non-KMT commissioner in the county.

Last week, Lin cried foul, accusing Lee of breach of trust because Lee reportedly had agreed in writing three years ago not run in this year's polls and to endorse Lin's re-election.

Lee, however, said he did not break his promise because there was a precondition when he signed the accord -- that he could run if Lin failed to do a good job.

The Nantou District Prosecutor's Office raided Lin's office yesterday and issued a summons, asking him to offer an account in response to various vote-buying allegations that have been leveled against him.

On Wednesday, prosecutors discovered an excessive amount of cash at Lin's campaign office in Puli. They said they failed to get an adequate explanation from the office manager about the money.

Lin's wife yesterday tearfully accused Tsai of pressuring prosecutors into conducting the search.

She also berated him for conducting a smear campaign against her husband.

Tsai has denied both allegations.

He had, however, previously called on the KMT to yank Lee out of the race because of the vote-buying charges.

Meanwhile, Tsai has gotten into hot water himself by condoning physical clashes between his supporters and Lin's on the campaign trail.

Tsai also came under fire from DPP Legislator Lin Yun-sheng (林耘生), who has alleged that Tsai meddled in the selection of the train communication system for the Taiwan Railway Administration in 2002.

Since Lin Yun-sheng's father is Lin Tsung-nan, his allegation was seen as just a ploy.

Lee's campaign manager, Hsiung Chun-ping (熊俊平), said yesterday that their campaign strategy was to use KMT heavyweights' charisma to invoke the "good old days" of the KMT administration's rule.

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