Wed, Dec 19, 2018 - Page 3 News List

MJIB closely watching council speaker elections

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) yesterday said it is closely monitoring the election process for city and county speakers and deputy speakers after receiving tip-offs and complaints about vote-buying by local councilors.

Allegations of bribery in the local council elections have been reported in Tainan and New Taipei City, as well as Miaoli, Changhua, Nantou, Chiayi, Pingtung, Yilan, Penghu and Lienchiang counties, MJIB investigators said.

The DPP is facing an intraparty fight after Tainan City Council Deputy Speaker Kuo Hsin-liang (郭信良) announced his plan to run for speaker.

After negotiations, DPP’s Tainan chapter decided to nominate Chiu Li-li (邱莉莉) and Kuo Ching-hua (郭清華) for speaker and deputy speaker respectively.

That sparked a backlash from Kuo Hsin-liang’s supporters, including 24 of the city’s borough wardens, who disputed the decision and accused the local party chapter of being unfair.

On Monday, the 24 quit as party members.

The KMT’s Tainan chapter has not yet decided on its nominees.

While the DPP suffered heavy losses in the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections, including the Tainan mayoral seat, it still holds sway in the Tainan City Council.

It won 25 of the 57 councilor seats, while 16 went to the KMT, 14 to non-aligned or independent candidates, and one each to the New Power Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

Speakers and deputy speakers are among the most influential positions in local government, ranking alongside city mayors or county magistrates, as they wield a lot of political power and financial clout over fiscal budgets, infrastructure projects and other public spending programs, which need to be approved by local councils.

Two famous cases of vote-buying convictions took place in Tainan and New Taipei City, where councilors reportedly received up to NT$10 million (US$323,939) each to vote for a particular candidate. Several councilors were expelled from their party after allegedly taking the money and then voting for a rival candidate.

Investigators are also monitoring the elections in New Taipei City after the KMT’s local chapter decided to nominate Chiang Keng-huang (蔣根煌) and Chen Hung-yuan (陳鴻源) for the two top positions, while incumbent Deputy Speaker Chen Wen-chih (陳文治) of the DPP said he would seek the support of independent councilors to retain his post.

KMT councilors have a numerical advantage in New Taipei City, having won 33 of the 66 seats, whereas the DPP has 25 seats.

In related news, Chiayi City Council Deputy Speaker Kuo Ming-pin (郭明賓), an independent, was questioned and released on NT$1 million bail yesterday.

He is suspected of paying local residents NT$1,000 each to vote for him, which helped him win last month.

Elsewhere, Yilan County Council Speaker Chen Wen-chang (陳文昌) was also accused of vote-buying to retain his councilor seat.

Rival candidates who lost the election told reporters that Chen organized an event during the campaign and handed out fried shallot pancakes (蔥油餅), valued at NT$180 each, to 500 residents who attended the event.

In Changhua County, the local court had indicted both candidates in the Sitou Village (溪頭) warden race on vote-buying charges.

The losing candidate, Hsu Yu-ling (徐郁玲), was yesterday convicted and handed a 20-month sentence, along with fine of NT$300,000.

The decision against the winning candidate, Chuang Ting-shan (莊定山), is pending.

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