Thu, Nov 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Wang hails proposal on vote-buying

RELAXED STANDARDS Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang said law enforcement officers were prepared to follow the Ministry of Justice's proposed revisions

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday lauded the Ministry of Justice's proposed amendment to its definition of vote-buying, saying that relaxing the standards of vote-buying investigations was a "benevolent policy."

When asked for comment in the legislature, Wang said that relaxing the regulations "by an appropriate degree" would be acceptable because the "social norms" of the nation should also be taken into consideration in the ministry's definition of vote-buying.

Wang was approached for comment after Vice Minister of Justice Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) proposed the amendment at the legislature during a cross-party negotiation on Tuesday.

The ministry wants to exclude several kinds of behavior from its list of vote-buying activities.

The activities suggested for removal include handing out cash or gifts at weddings or funerals, providing rally participants with an appropriate amount of food and drink, such as stir-fried rice, noodles, lunchboxes and meatball soup.

Candidates who offer campaign staffers T-shirts and hats bearing their names, and candidates who give supporters low-value gifts, such as couplets and desk calendars, should not be considered guilty of vote-buying, the proposal says.

The ministry has not decided whether to relax the ban on candidates from giving voters gifts that cost more than NT$30.

The speaker said yesterday that the ministry's past definition of vote-buying was too "rigid" and that the proposal would bring the law up to date with social customs.

Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) said at the legislature yesterday that his ministry would follow the new definitions on election irregularities once they have been passed.

"[Once the news standards are passed] we will officially notify all police authorities around the country and provide training for police officers," Lee said. "We will not leave the police officers to figure everything out by themselves."

Asked when law enforcement authorities would begin to look into election bribery cases, Lee said investigations had already begun six months ago.

Meanwhile, although the legislature's question-and-answer session is scheduled to deal with the two remaining articles of a proposed amendment to the Election and Recall Law of Civil Servants (公務人員選舉罷免法) tomorrow, the pan-green and pan-blue camps remained at loggerheads over a pan-blue proposal that investigations into vote-buying should not begin until the Central Election Commission (CEC) formally announces an election.

When asked for comment, KMT caucus whip Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said the caucus supported prosecutors' investigations into vote-buying, adding that the caucus was pursuing a "reasonable and consistent" standard of investigation.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Jao Yung-ching (趙永清) said the pan-blue camp was apparently trying to help vote buyers.

Jao said the first pan-blue proposal was that vote-buying should not be investigated before a candidate completes his registration with the CEC.

"Vote-buying is vote-buying. I do not care when it happens," Jao said. "What the pan-blues are proposing is giving vote-buyers a break. It is absurd."

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang and Loa Iok-sin

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