A civic alliance that launched a recall campaign against Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) accused the Central Election Commission (CEC) on Thursday of seeking revenge on behalf of political figures by sending its New Taipei City (新北市) branch to investigate whether the signature drive launched in August last year was in any way illegal.
Academia Sinica research fellow and Constitution 133 Alliance (憲法一三三實踐聯盟) member Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) made the accusation in a Facebook post, calling the commission’s action “phony” and “shameful.”
The recall movement against Wu was launched in August last year over what the alliance said was Wu’s failure to serve the public interest and its belief that he acted as President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “yes-man.”
The campaign to recall Wu fell through after it was not able to secure enough signatures to fulfill the second stage of a recall motion by a Feb. 1 deadline.
Huang said that when CEC Chairperson Chang Po-ya (張博雅) gave her report to the Legislative Yuan last year, she told Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) that the commission was aware Article 86 of the Civil Servants’ Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉與罷免法) was not suited to the 21st century and that it was in the process of debating its revision.
Article 86 states that when a recall act is in progress, aside from work to gain signatures, there should be no events staged for or against the recall. Violations of the article are punishable by a fine ranging from NT$100,000 to NT$1 million (US$3,300 to US$33,000).
The commission has become the “political hitman” for certain leaders with its promises of legislative amendments, Huang said.
However, it sent the alliance a notice of violation of the law according to the exact article it claims to be amending, Huang wrote in his post.
In response, CEC Deputy Chairman Liu Yi-chou (劉義周) said that while the commission had said the article in question should be amended and that it would be proposing a draft amendment, the issue with the alliance was unrelated to the changes.
When the New Taipei City election committee was debating the request by the commission, it felt that because the recall was still in the signature drive stage and had not then been formalized, there was no justification for punitive measures, Liu said.
When the commission convened after the New Taipei City branch gave its answer, the commission felt the problem was whether it had been a formal case, but that there should not have been any promotion of the recall or events associated with it, Liu said.
“Huang’s post only reflects our latest answer to the New Taipei City branch on the specifics of the regulation and our request for further investigation into the incident,” Liu said, adding that the commission was not seeking revenge against the alliance.
Alliance cofounder Neil Peng (馮光遠) called for everyone who helped promote the recall event to “turn themselves in” to the commission.
Saying he had already called Chang and “turned himself in,” Peng added that if he was fined for promoting the recall event, he would be proud to have contributed more money to the national coffers.
Huang also said that all of the alliance’s pictures and videos are on Facebook and called on the commission to look online for proof and not drag the New Taipei City office into the fray.