Wed, Oct 13, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Taoyuan’s support for Chu questioned

TRAMPLING THE LAW:A statement released by the Taoyuan County Government on its Web site is ‘clearly illegal,’ experts say, citing laws on government impartiality

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

The Taoyuan County Government yesterday admitted it collaborated with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) councilors to jointly release a statement supporting former county commissioner Eric Chu (朱立倫), who is now running for mayor of Sinbei City, Taipei County’s name once it’s been upgraded.

The action, which legal experts said was “clearly illegal,” could add fuel to concerns that Chu’s campaign has been operating in violation of laws on government impartiality. His opponent, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), yesterday accused the county government of giving the KMT candidate preferential treatment.

The joint statement, sent out by the county government and later forwarded by Chu’s campaign office, heavily criticizes the opposition party and claims the DPP held back national development.

It also accuses the DPP of “badmouthing” the county and says the DPP under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) “laughed at” the area’s development.

Regarding allegations made by Tsai’s campaign that Chu failed to complete his election promises of building an MRT line during his eight years as Taoyuan County commissioner, the statement said: “We deeply regret [to say] that the reason for [this] ... is because of the DPP administration and not the county government or Eric Chu.”

“We are not denying that [he] failed to complete his plans for an MRT system during his tenure ... but the main reason is because the DPP-led central government [rejected the proposal] and even heckled us at all turns,” the statement read. “The real check-bouncers are the DPP.”

The statement, which was jointly signed by the Taoyuan County Government and the KMT county councilor caucus, was posted on the county government’s Web site yesterday afternoon. An official responsible for sending out the press release admitted the county government sent a copy to the KMT caucus for approval before its release to the public.

“We wrote it and then asked the KMT caucus to take a look at it,” said Lin Ming-chang (林明昌), a section chief at the county’s public transit office. “We didn’t send it to the DPP caucus because they are the source of those problems.”

“This made the process simpler,” he said.

The release, however, may have violated the Civil Service Administrative Neutrality Act (公務人員行政中立法), which prohibits government agencies from publicizing documents from political parties, said Chen Chao-jian (陳朝建), an assistant professor of public affairs at Ming Chuan University who specializes in local administrative law.

Article 9 of the act states that it is illegal for public employees to “use administrative resources to edit, print or copy, distribute or otherwise post documents pictures and other promotion materials” for political parties or candidates.

It refers to administrative resources as the use of any public tools, funds, locations or human resources.

“It was extremely improper for the Taoyuan County Government to do this,” Chen Chao-jian said. “Civil servants have an obligation to remain politically neutral ... and this statement was clearly in violation of this principle.”

The county government officials who worked on the statement, he said, could be disciplined under Article 22 of the Civil Servant Services Act (公務員服務法).

The act stipulates that the penalty would be subject to the severity of the violation.

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