The first term of the Greater Kaohsiung City Council, which has been plagued by a series of lawsuits involving city councilors, could become even more controversial as the probe into an alleged graft case centered around former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) widens to include the council.
According to sources familiar with the matter, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID) will soon subpoena a number of Greater Kaohsiung city councilors, including several heavyweights, to investigate allegations that some of them pressured the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau on behalf of Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥), the lead witness in the case.
Chen allegedly sought out city councilors for “assistance” after China Steel Corp (CSC) and two of its subsidiaries refused to supply his metal-recycling company, Ti Yung Co, with materials in accordance with a decision by the bureau on March 23 that Ti Yung had caused environmental pollution.
Ti Yung secured slag treatment contracts from the three companies, allegedly with the help of Lin, whom Chen accused of accepting a bribe of NT$63 million (US$2.15 million) from him to assist with the matter in 2010 and who had asked for a further NT$83 million this year.
On June 1, the bureau overturned the resolution on the grounds that the company had addressed the pollution concerns, prompting suspicions that the move followed pressure from city councilors.
The first-term city councilors were sworn in on Dec. 25, 2010 after Kaohsiung City merged with Kaohsiung County to form one of five special municipalities.
However, after only one-and-a-half years in office, several city councilors have become embroiled in lawsuits that have tarnished the image of the city council.
On the day of their inauguration, all 66 city councilors were indicted for making public classified legal documents by allegedly showing their ballots during a vote for the city council speaker.
A total of 53 councilors who admitted wrongdoing and expressed remorse were given a deferred prosecution, while the rest were indicted by prosecutors.
Meanwhile, 12 city councilors, including Greater Kaohsiung City Council Speaker Hsu Kun-yuan (許崑源), were charged with perjury in May last year — on conclusion of an investigation which was launched in 2009 — on suspicion of submitting fake expenses claims for employing figurehead assistants.
Four first-term city councilors, including Sun Ching-lung (孫慶龍), Yang Jian-fu (楊見福), Lee Hung-jun (李鴻鈞), Tseng Shui-wen (曾水文) and Chu Hsin-chiang (朱信強), were also stripped of their seats after being found guilty of vote-buying, while Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), son of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), was stripped of his position after being sentenced to a three-month jail term for perjury in a money-laundering case involving his family.