Tue, Nov 20, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet threatens local officials

BEHAVE Cabinet spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey said heads of local governments would be held responsible if they did not comply with the election commission's decision

By Ko Shu-ling and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Executive Yuan yesterday threatened to punish local government officials who vowed to defy the Central Election Commission's (CEC) decision to distribute election and referendum ballots simultaneously in January's legislative elections.

Cabinet spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) said that heads of local governments would be held responsible if their local governments did not comply, adding that frontline election personnel were also subject to punishment as spelled out in the Civil Servants Work Act (公務人員服務法), the Civil Servants Evaluation Act (公務人員考績法) and the Law on Discipline of Civil Servants (公務人員懲戒法).

Shieh said that although Ma had studied law, he was ignoring the CEC's decision, calling on the 18 KMT-governed city and county governments governed by the pan-blue camp to ignore the decision, and telling them they would not be violating any laws by using a two-step voting system.

"Then why do we need the CEC? Why don't they just make their own decision and print their own ballots?" he said.

Shieh dismissed speculation that the administration would cut the funding of local governments who boycott the CEC's decree.

The CEC ruled on Friday that voters would receive their legislative ballot and two referendum ballots together at the entrance to voting stations.

The pan-blue and pan-green camps have been arguing for weeks over how to distribute ballots for the legislative election and two referendums -- one proposed by the DPP and the other by the KMT.

During the 2004 presidential election -- the first time a referendum and a national election were held simultaneously -- the ballots were issued separately.

Some CEC members suggested "one-step voting," meaning that ballots be handed out together, while pan-blue politicians and commission members recommended by pan-blue political parties called for the "two-step voting" system used in 2004.

Both sides accuse each other of trying to manipulate election and referendum results.

The 18 pan-blue local governments have signed a joint statement pledging to exercise their authority according to the Local Government Act (地方自治法) and handle the elections their own way.

In response, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday lashed out at the Cabinet over the rumors that funding for those local governments would be cut.

KMT caucus whip Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) told a press conference the caucus despised the government for trying to "tyrannize" the local governments.

Kuo said that the caucus would take action to "retaliate" if the central government were to cut funding as punishment for using two-step voting.

When approached for comment yesterday, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a KMT member, said the pan-blue camp's plan would make vote counting easier, while the CEC's decision would make ballot casting more convenient.

He said, however, that priority should be given to facilitating vote counting, adding that the two-step procedure had proved effective in the 2004 presidential poll and referendum.

Wang said it was hard to fathom why the CEC would decide to abandon an effective procedure.

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