Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairperson Chang Po-ya (張博雅) yesterday admitted there was no institutionalized emergency response plan to deal with unexpected events — such as natural disasters — during an election campaign period or on election day and promised to come up with a plan within one month.
Chang made the remarks while responding to questions raised by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) during a question-and-answer session at an Internal Administration Committee meeting to review the commission’s budgets for the next fiscal year.
“Hurricane Sandy hit the US right before the US presidential election, and many had worried that the disaster could have some impact on the election,” Chiang said.
“Taiwan is also a country that often faces challenges from natural disasters, such as earthquakes. Do we have an emergency response plan that could be enacted immediately when a disaster hits during the campaign period or on the election day?” he said.
Chang said that there is not a systemic emergency response plan specifically aimed at handling disasters that may effect an election.
“But I think it’s a good idea to draft such a plan,” she said.
The commission is to look into how the electoral authorities in the US reacted to the hurricane and intends to formulate a plan within one month, Chang said.
Chang also commented on recent controversies surrounding special allowance funds for heads of government agencies before the meeting began.
“Whether the special allowance fund should be cut or how much it should be cut by are decisions to be made by the Cabinet,” she said.
“There should not be different standards and different actions in different ministries,” she said.
Chang added that it is hard to say whether her special allowance fund is sufficient because it depends on the number of events and meetings she is scheduled to attend.
“Sometimes it’s enough, sometimes it’s not, but most of time it’s not enough,” Chang said.
The special allowance funds are usually spent by heads of government agencies to purchase gifts for visiting guests, or used for cash gifts at weddings or funerals.