Blamed for the party’s unexpected loss in the Greater Tainan city council speaker election, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) broke into tears yesterday while saying her conscience was clear over allegations she defied the party in the vote.
Chen said she had repeatedly reminded the party before the poll was held on Thursday last week that the party’s bid for the speakership was at stake, but she did not expect the party would lose.
Prior to the election, with two of the 11 independent councilors and one Taiwan Solidarity Union councilor allying themselves with the DPP, the DPP, which has 29 councilors in the 57-seat council, had expected to win the speakership, but its candidate Lai Mei-hui (賴美惠) lost to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) by 26 votes to 29. The KMT only has 16 seats.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
While the investigation into why the party lost the election in the secret vote is still ongoing, five of the DPP’s city councilors, affiliated to the One Side, One Country Alliance (OSOC, 一邊一國連線), a sub-group of the party which Chen belongs to, were suspected of voting against the party line in exchange for money offered by the KMT camp.
Chen told a news conference at the legislature yesterday that she had tipped off DPP headquarters on Wednesday last week about vote-buying.
“When there was an offer of NT$20 million (US$629,700) under [each of the city councilors’] noses, what could I do?” said Chen, who was one of the members tasked by the DPP with supervising the election.
DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) has questioned Chen’s role in what Chiu termed “the most serious betrayal” of the party since its establishment in 1986, calling on DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to discover the “syndicate” within the party that masterminded the loss of votes.
In response to Chiu, Chen said she had a clear conscience.
DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) alleged that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and former KMT lawmaker Lee Ho-shun (李和順) were involved in vote-buying during the election.
DPP City Councilor Liang Shun-fa (梁順發), DPP City Councilor Tsai Chiu-lan’s (蔡秋蘭) husband, and Independent City Councilor Chao Kun-yuan (趙昆源) traveled to China’s Xiamen with Lee Ho-shun before the election and did not return to Taiwan until Sunday last week, Tuan said he had learned.
Before the vote, several DPP city councilors were invited over by Wang to Lee Ho-shun’s residence for a talk, Tuan added.
DPP spokesperson Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) yesterday urged prosecutors to vigorously investigate the alleged vote-buying that involved not only the city council in Greater Tainan, but also councils of other cities and counties.
In related news, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers yesterday paid a visit to Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪), calling for Luo to launch a judicial probe into allegations of vote-buying.
The legislators told Luo of alleged bribery and vote-buying at New Taipei City Council, and requested the ministry investigate immediately.
TSU Legislator Chou Ni-an (周倪安) said New Taipei City Council Speaker-elect Chiang Ken-huang (蔣根煌) of the KMT told people that he knew it would come down to a drawing of lots to break the tie.
Following the tie after two rounds, Chiang won the lot-drawing to clinch the position of council speaker, but the process was rife with controversy.
“The vote-buying controversies at council speaker elections last week have done grave harm to Taiwan’s democracy. Some councilors were allegedly bought at NT$50 million per vote,” TSU Legislator Lai Cheng-chang (賴振昌) said.
“Much of the information we received pointed to New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) as the behind-the-scenes mastermind controlling the bribery and vote-buying at the councilor speaker elections. The TSU demands an investigation by the ministry within three days,” Lai added.
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