The Chiayi District Prosecutors’ Office last month closed the investigation into the lawsuit brought by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) against the Chiayi County Farmer’s Association for slander and defamation, saying that it would not bring the association up on any charges.
The incident began during the association’s March elections, when a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate in the polls displayed cloth banners reading “Fight to the death against the KMT’s cancelation of the Old-Age Farmers’ Welfare Allowance Program” in Minsyong (民雄) and Yijhu (義竹) townships
Academia Sinica published an article in February suggesting the government impose a sunset clause for the allowance program. The article was at first well received by the Council of Agriculture.
However, after the council faced opposition on the issue, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) gave his word that the government would not stop the program.
Due to the KMT’s Chiayi office being ineligible to be the plaintiff in the suit, office director Huang Yao-jen (黃耀仁) asked KMT party headquarters, which Ma represents, to assume the role.
After months of investigation, the prosecutors’ office said the DPP candidate’s actions were a reasonable criticism of a public matter and that there was no evidence of slander and defamation.
The defendants’ lawyer, Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘), criticized Ma and said the president was “vicious” because of the 51 defendants, more than 14 were over the age of 70 and one was 80.
It is very cruel for the KMT to force these old men, who only made reasonable comments in an ongoing public discussion, to appear in court in Chiayi, Tsai said, adding that the incident shows that the KMT wants to make farmers suffer through judiciary means.
DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) said that the KMT had frequently made enemies of farmers, adding that it was “inhumane” for the ruling party to use justifications that would not stand up in a court of law to sue farmers as this would only result in worrying elderly agricultural workers.