Vote-buying probe launched after association elections

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Feb 22, 2017 - Page 3

Authorities are investigating allegations of vote-buying for farmers’ association positions in Sunday’s nationwide elections, following reports from numerous candidates.

Three people in Miaoli County’s Tungshiau Township (通霄) were released on bail yesterday after being accused of paying people NT$3,000 to vote according to instructions.

Miaoli police on Monday raided 18 locations and 18 people were detained and questioned by prosecutors.

“Some farmers’ association members have admitted to receiving payments of NT$3,000 with instructions to vote for a certain candidate, so we have sufficient evidence to press charges,” Miaoli prosecutors said.

In Taipei, nine district farmers’ associations finalized voting on Sunday, with 378 officials elected to executive, board member and committee representative positions.

However, Taipei prosecutors were looking into vote-buying allegations in Taipei’s Muzha (木柵) area after allegations that a candidate handed out gift boxes of expensive teas to garner support in the elections.

In Taitung County, a man surnamed Liu (劉) allegedly paid NT$6,000 per person for votes.

“We started an investigation after complaints about electorial irregularities on Sunday. There is evidence to suggest that Liu distributed payments of NT$6,000 to his friends and relatives to buy their votes,” Taitung County prosecutor Teng Ting-chiang (鄧定強) said.

Liu was released on NT$80,000 bail and is to be charged with breaches of the Farmers Association Act (農會法).

In Nantou County, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members accused the judiciary of dereliction of duty for ignoring widespread reports of vote-buying activities during the elections.

“People complained about many instances of vote-buying by candidates. Everyone is aware it has been going on, but officials said they knew nothing about it,” Nantou County DPP chapter office director Chen Chao-yu (陳昭煜) said.

Chen said he has photographs, which he passed on to authorities, of candidates allegedly giving cash to eligible voters ahead of the elections.

“They did not conduct an investigation into these cases. It is disappointing,” he said.

The inaction was because of political interference, as Nantou is under the administration of Nantou County Commissioner Lin Ming-chen (林明溱) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), he said.