Thu, Mar 17, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Pingtung indicts 58 after election probe

TANGLED WEB:The 58 include KMT Legislator Chien Tung-ming and members of his campaign team, as well as residents who admitted to taking money for their votes

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Pingtung County prosecutors indicted Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Aboriginal Legislator Chien Tung-ming (簡東明) and 57 other people on election law violations and vote-buying charges yesterday, after wrapping up a nearly two-month-long investigation.

The indictment was another strike against Chien, after prosecutors filed a court application on Feb. 19 as part of an investigation into vote-buying to nullify his election in the Jan. 16 presidential and legislative elections.

Lawmakers yesterday discussed options on how to fill the potential vacancy should Chien be found guilty in the Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office case, which would cause him to lose his seat in the legislature, including awarding the seat to the Aboriginal candidate with the next-highest number of votes or holding a by-election.

Also indicted were Ma Chao-ming (馬昭明), director of the KMT’s local chapter in Pingtung’s Sandimen Township (三地門), and Wang Jung-yi (王榮儀), director of the KMT’s local chapter in Pingtung’s Majia Township (瑪家).

The 58 indicted also included other local KMT members, members of Chien’s campaign and residents who admitted to having taken money in exchange for votes for Chien.

Pingtung head prosecutor Yang Wan-li (楊婉莉) said that after questioning suspects, witness testimonies and other evidence pointed to Chien having had direct involvement in vote-buying and other election law violations.

Yang alleged that during the campaign, Chien gave Wang NT$148,000 to buy votes in Majia and NT$123,000 for Wang to pass on to Ma to buy votes in Sandimen.

Chien allegedly provided lists of KMT members and local residents, to whom Wang disbursed between NT$1,500 and NT$3,000 each in exchange for votes for Chien, with some residents receiving as much as NT$7,000 for their votes, prosecutors said.

Upon learning of the indictments, Chien said: “The funds we distributed were wages for campaign activities, not money to buy votes. Prosecutors have committed a mistake, which has resulted in my campaign workers and supporters being indicted. I feel helpless in this situation, but the legal system will find me innocent of the charges.”

However, prosecutors said that the money was disbursed to eligible voters and not as payment for services rendered, adding that there were no receipts or instructions for any “work” done.

As the distribution of money was done in a furtive way, prosecutors viewed the funds as bribes given to local residents for their votes and indicted Chien and the others for contravening the Civil Servants Election And Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法).

Chien, 64, is a member of Pingtung County’s Paiwan community. He also goes by his Paiwan name, Uliw Qaljupayare.

He first represented the KMT after winning an Aboriginal legislator seat in 2008, which was followed by judicial proceedings against him on charges of vote-buying during that election.

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