Prosecutors yesterday indicted three candidates in Saturday’s local elections, while investigators continued to probe a raft of vote-buying allegations.
The three candidates — Wei Hsueh-ching (魏雪卿), Yen Chung-chieh (閻中傑) and Tsai Sheng-hung (蔡勝烘), who are all running for the office of Taoyuan County county councilor — were indicted by prosecutors on charges of distributing presents or cash in return for promises of voter support.
In the rural township of Hsikou (溪口) in Chiayi County, prosecutors released a man surnamed Huang on NT$20,000 bail after he confessed to paying two people NT$2,000 each to vote for certain county commissioner, township chief and councilor candidates.
According to prosecutors, Huang said he had taken the initiative to offer the bribe and had not acted on behalf of any candidate.
In Pingtung County, prosecutors sought to detain Kaoshu Township (高樹) Chief Wang Shu-wei (王樹圍) in connection with alleged vote-buying activities.
The prosecutors said Wang, who is running for county councilor, was using public money to fund the activities of a specific private group in an effort to secure the support of its members.
However, the court rejected the prosecutors’ request to detain Wang, saying the evidence against him was insufficient.
In Caotun (草屯), Nantou County, prosecutors detained a female councilor candidate surnamed Hsu after a woman, whose name was withheld, was caught allegedly buying votes for the candidate.
Two of the three candidates running for township chief in Guangfu (光復), Hualien County, had earlier been detained by prosecutors in connection with vote-buying.
However, local election officials said the Guangfu polls would go ahead as scheduled on Saturday with all of the candidates on the ballot.
The candidate with the most votes will be declared the winner, even if he is in custody, and will not be stripped of his seat unless he is found guilty in court, they said.
Vote-buying has become a major issue in the elections. The Democratic Progressive Party has said that none of its candidates had been detained for election-fixing, a claim that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has rejected as “nonsense.”
Local media reported yesterday that candidates have been offering bribes ranging from NT$500 to NT$3,000 per person for voters to support them.
However, on Dongyin (東引), one of the Matsu islands making up Lienchiang County, the bribes were reportedly as high as NT$30,000 per person. Some county commissioner candidates have been collaborating with county councilor and township chief candidates to offer “package bribes” of NT$5,000 per person to voters, local media claimed.
Lin Ching-tsung (林慶宗), the chief prosecutor in Lienchiang County, said his office was looking into allegations that some candidates were offering NT$30,000 for a vote.
Lin said most residents of Lienchiang County have strong political allegiances, but foreign spouses and migrant workers from Taiwan proper are usually swing voters and are likely to be targeted in vote-buying schemes.
The prosecutor said his office was investigating nine allegations of vote-buying and 31 suspected cases of phantom voters who had taken up residence in Lienchiang four months before the election for the sole purpose of supporting specific candidates.
In another outlying island county, Kinmen, prosecutors have received 91 complaints of election-fixing, 11 of which they said appeared to be substantiated.
The KMT meanwhile yesterday accused the DPP of attempting to influence election results after DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) brother-in-law wrote an academic paper on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) support rate.
The research paper written by Tsai’s brother-in-law, National Taiwan University economy professor Liu Jin-tian (劉錦添), said about 60 percent of respondents were opposed to the government’s proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
KMT Spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said the DPP was using the poll to manipulate Saturday’s elections, adding that Tsai should not abuse academic resources to affect the election result.
“Liu is scheduled to formally release the paper on Dec. 11, but revealed the content to a certain newspaper. We suspect that the poll is being used to manipulate the elections,” Lee said. “It is clear that the DPP used the academic paper for election purposes, and we urged Tsai to acknowledge its actions.”
DPP Spokeswoman Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) yesterday shrugged off the KMT’s accusation by saying that the ECFA was a national issue that did not pertain to any candidate in particular, rendering the KMT’s allegation against the DPP moot.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JENNY W. HSU
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