Wed, Dec 26, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Two lawmakers under investigation for vote-buying

SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR May Chin is being probed for helping supporters find jobs and Chen Tsiao-long for distributing tea in exchange for votes

By Rich Chang, Flora Wang and Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Prosecutors yesterday said they are investigating independent Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Tsiao-long (陳朝龍) on suspicion of vote-buying.

Prosecutors from the Special Investigation Bureau of the Supreme Prosecutors Office on Monday searched Chin's offices in the legislature and a building nearby.

In Ilan, prosecutors on Monday questioned more than 30 Aborigines in the county, where Chin is making her bid for re-election.

Prosecutors suspect Chin used her influence to secure jobs for supporters in return for their vote. They alleged that when the Water Resources Agency proposed hiring 200 individuals to patrol Ilan's major rivers to prevent illegal fishing and sand quarrying in September, Chin provided a list of Aboriginal names to the agency, asking it to hire them.

They said the bureau hired all the individuals in Chin's list.

Chin yesterday defended her innocence, saying she did not buy votes.

She told a press conference that the 22 people hired by the Water Resources Agency sent her a letter in July voicing their hope that the agency could retain their services after the expiration of their initial employment contract.

After verifying that the 22 individuals on the list were unemployed, with three coming from low-income families, her assistant forwarded the letter to the agency, she said.

Twenty of themwere employed by the agency again, she said.

"As an Aboriginal legislator, I was only passing on the voters' letter to the government agency. I did not buy votes," she said, while calling the investigation a "joke."

Meanwhile, Chen was released on NT$300,000 (US$9,000) bail on Monday after being arrested on suspicion of providing a number of voters with tea packs.

Prosecutors interviewed 195 individuals suspected of helping Chen dispatch the tea gifts, or accepting the gifts.

Chen also claimed his innocence. Chen said he sent the tea packs by express mail to local government heads and his supporters during the Dragon Boat Festival in May. It was not an attempt to woo voters' support, as he was not a legislative candidate at the time, he said.

DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) defended Chen's action, saying that sending gifts during the Dragon Boat Festival was a customary practice.

"Chen said he sent the packs via express mail to everybody, including his pan-blue friends," Ker said.

"Why would anybody send a bribe via express mail to his rivals?" he said.

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