ELECTIONS: Two KMT candidates post bail in vote-buying probe

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Nov 19, 2018 - Page 3

Authorities are conducting a massive probe into reports of vote buying in Hsinchu County, in which prosecutors expect to question about 420 people, while two candidates in the Jhudong Township (竹東) mayoral race posted bail.

Prosecutors yesterday said that enough witnesses have been questioned and evidence gathered to file charges under the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法).

The two Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidates in the Jhudong Township mayoral race, Lo Chi-hsiang (羅吉祥) and Wu Sheng-sung (吳勝松), were questioned and released this week after posting bail of NT$70,000, they said, adding that Lo and Wu were the only candidates.

Due to numerous reports of alleged violations and suspected illegal activity, the Hsinchu District Prosecutors’ Office formed a taskforce led by Prosecutor Chang Jui-ling (張瑞玲).

Allegations against Lo included partnering with borough wardens and local officials in a cash-for-vote scheme. Raids targeting Lo’s staff members were conducted earlier this month.

Investigators found that borough wardens had been paid NT$30,000 each to consolidate support for Lo, with NT$500 to NT$1,000 allegedly being disbursed to residents to secure their vote, Chang said.

“When investigating Lo, we received testimony from people that Wu, Lo’s rival, and his staff were allegedly using the same tactics of organizing a network to distribute cash to residents,” Chang said.

A raid was conducted on Friday at Wu’s campaign offices, with the cash, bank books, mobile phones and files seized, he said, adding that this lead to 168 people being summoned for questioning.

Prosecutors plan to question about 420 people in the ongoing investigation, Chang said.

In Changhua County, a man surnamed Shih (施) was on Saturday detained on suspicion of spending about NT$300,000 to buy votes for his father, who is running for county councilor.

More than 100 people have been questioned, with some allegedly receiving NT$500 for their votes, while local officials allegedly received NT$5,000 to help distribute money, prosecutors said.

In Pingtung County, prosecutors said three candidates were investigated, with residents allegedly having received NT$1,000 to NT$2,000 for their votes.

After questioning on Friday, one candidate running for village chief in Shihzih Township (獅子) and one candidate running for township councilor were detained pending further investigation, while another candidate for councilor was released after posting bail of NT$200,000, prosecutors said.

Also this past week, prosecutors in Tainan said they have investigated seven cases in which residents allegedly received gifts of rice, tea or dried meat products in suspected vote-buying schemes.

Six suspects have been detained and 265 people have been questioned, they said.