President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election campaign office and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday denied abusing government resources by forcing civil servants to attend rallies for Ma on Sunday.
The rallies, called “Standing Up for Taiwan,” will be held simultaneously on Sunday afternoon in Taipei, Greater Taichung and Hualien and Taitung counties.
Ma will lead the rally in Taipei, joining the crowd on the walk from Taipei City Hall to Ketagalan Boulevard.
First lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) and the KMT vice presidential candidate, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), will join the rally in Greater Taichung, Ma’s campaign office plan indicates.
The Chinese-language Next Magazine reported yesterday that to ensure a large turnout at the rallies, Ma’s re-election campaign office and the KMT instructed eight Cabinet agencies or organizations — the ministries of the interior, finance, economic affairs, transportation and communications and education, the councils for labor affairs and agriculture and the Training Center of the Veteran’s Affairs Commission — to each mobilize about 500 civil servants to attend the rallies.
A total of 4,000 civil servants would attend the rally in Taipei, the Next Magazine report said, adding that the Taipei City Government would also likely mobilize city servants to join the campaign event.
Rejecting the accusations, KMT Culture and Communications Committee director Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲) said the rally was being organized in line with three basic principles: no use of government resources, no use of office hours and no forced participation.
Chuang said the KMT’s Taipei City branch did hold a meeting with government-employed party members on Dec. 18 to discuss the campaign activity and asked them to invite party members to attend Sunday’s rally.
“We are encouraging party members to attend the rally. It’s an invitation. The meeting was not held to mobilize administrative mechanisms for campaign purposes,” he said.
“We won’t force anyone, especially civil servants, to join the event,” he said.
Ma’s campaign spokesperson, Yin Wei (殷瑋), also dismissed the allegation, saying the Ma camp had never issued documents to any administrative bodies and compelled civil servants to join the rallies.
Government Information Office Minister Philip Yang (楊永明) said that while the Executive Yuan had been informed of Sunday’s rallies by the Ma-Wu campaign office and KMT headquarters, the government did not force public servants to participate in the activity.
Yang said the Cabinet was told that government employees who are not working that day were welcome to join the rallies.
He added that the Cabinet could not possibly use coercion to demand government agencies mobilize their employees to join election rallies.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan