Fri, Jan 01, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Battle lines drawn over vote-buying accusations

FANCY FEAST:DPP officials have estimated that a Hsinchu banquet at the center of the vote-buying controversy would have cost the KMT about NT$8 million to host

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Officials and advisors of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), led by lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄), yesterday headed to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office to launch a lawsuit against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) over alleged vote buying at a banquet event in Hsinchu last weekend.

Koo said that the year-end “thanksgiving” banquet with 1,035 tables and free meals for over 10,000 Hsinchu City residents at a night market plaza was a clear attempt at vote buying to influence the election outcome.

DPP officials have estimated the event would have cost about NT$8 million (US$243,532), including food and drinks, caterers, venue rental and service personnel.

Koo said that if the event’s bill payments can be traced to the KMT, he would consider launching a lawsuit to nullify qualifications for all KMT nominated candidates for legislator-at-large seats.

DPP spokesman Yang Chia- liang (楊家俍) said the event was organized by the KMT’s Hsinchu City Chapter, and co-organized by Chu’s support organizations, as well as people associated with KMT legislative candidate for Hsinchu City Cheng Cheng-chien (鄭正鈐) campaign activities. Yang added that KMT Secretary-General Lee Shu-chuan (李四川) also attended the event on behalf of Chu.

“We are asking the judicial agencies to find out who paid the expenses for the banquet, was it Eric Chu? Or the KMT?” Yang said. “The Ministry of Justice has not been proactive in investigating. Are they just going to slack off on this case? Are they permitting the KMT to openly buy votes with such events?”

The Hsinchu District Prosecutors’ Office has summoned 36 people for questioning in relation to the case, including KMT officials in Hsinchu City, invited officials, caterers and companies that provided services at the event.

The KMT yesterday fired back with its own salvo, accusing the DPP of mudslinging in the lead up to the election in order to tarnish the party’s candidates.

Cheng Cheng-chien brushed aside the vote-buying accusations, urging the judiciary to conduct a thorough investigation, which he said would find him innocent of any wrongdoing as he was merely visiting the KMT-hosted banquet to greet and talk with residents.

Lee Ming-hsien (李明賢), a KMT Communications and Broadcasting Committee official, said that the banquet was a goodwill event organized by the Hsinchu City Government, and this year the host changed to the KMT Hsinchu City Chapter.

“All residents of Hsinchu City can attend the dinner, regardless of their party affiliation,” Lee said.

According to Lee, the banquet did not constitute a campaign event as there were no campaign banners or political slogans at the event.

He said that the KMT supports the judiciary conducting an investigation and urged the DPP to stop engaging in negative election tactics.

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