The practice of vote buying in Taiwan was again underlined with the allegations of problems that emerged on Dec. 8, the eve of the Kaohsiung and Taipei mayoral and city council elections.
The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) mayoral candidate Chen Chu (陳菊) released a videotape showing a man on a bus allegedly buying votes for the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) mayoral candidate Huang Chun-ying (黃俊英) and its city councilor candidate Huang Po-lin (黃柏霖) at NT$500 apiece.
Huang Chun-ying's camp, however, accused Chen of setting him up and Huang himself swore that he was innocent. Huang Po-lin also denied any involvement in the case, saying he would resign from his councilor seat if anyone could prove otherwise. Huang's campaign headquarters also threatened to launch a lawsuit to have Chen's election to office nullified.
President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) showed his concern just after the allegations were made, and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) questioned whether there really was anyone so enthusiastic that he would put up the money to secure votes. Unfortunately, police did not arrest Ku Hsin-ming (古鋅酩), a prime suspect in the case who rented two buses for Huang's election-eve rally, until five days after the allegations were made, and Ma therefore requested that Ku be prevented from colluding with any accomplices.
The fact that both the president and the KMT chairman became involved in the case shows that it is important and must be solved. Still, the efforts of local prosecutors, investigators and police are clearly insufficient.
To begin with, the fact that police did not catch up with Ku until several days later in such a major case makes it clear that too little effort was put into the investigation process.
Further, apart from Tsai Neng-hsiang (蔡能祥), nicknamed Hei Song (黑松), there was allegedly another middle-aged woman passing out money on the bus. It is still unclear who she was.
Also, when Ku turned himself in, he said the money was provided by a Yang Ching-te (
Su Wan-chi (蘇萬基), the executive of the KMT mayoral candidate's campaign team, admitted that he had asked Yang, who also is from Yunlin, to help mobilize support for the candidate. But did Su give Yang NT$60,000 to pay voters to participate in rallies? If he did not, then where did the money come from?
Lin Ping-feng (林平峰), chairman of the Yunlin Association, admitted to prosecutors that the association rented 10 buses for Huang's election-eve rally, but that it did not include the two buses Yang had organized for his mobilization activities.
However, Su, a former chairman of the Yunlin Association, had already admitted that he asked Yang to mobilize supporters for the rally, and he managed to fax the map of the rally to Ku.
Why did the incumbent and former chairmen contradict each other? Is there any connection between the Yunlin Association and Ku's NT$60,000 ?
Furthermore, and most importantly, why would the city councilor candidate be involved? The electoral number of both candidates surnamed Huang was No. 1. If the vote buying occurred, what is the connection between the two Huangs?
Is there some one manipulating this complex case from behind the scene?
If Chen Chu really made up the case as Huang's camp claimed, how did her camp collude with Yang, Ku, Tsai and the middle-aged woman on the bus to set up a secret relationship that was so systematic and sophisticated?
If her camp made up the case, was it planned by Chen Chu herself, or others?
Chen said she believed that her rival would not buy votes, but that his party probably would. Could vote buying have occurred as part of an extensive vote-buying system? Is the party attacking her to save itself, as it switches from defense to offense?
As the facts of this case become clear, some people may be proven innocent while others may be judged guilty. We firmly believe that the truth of the case is crucial to Taiwan's future development, and we want to make the three following suggestions.
First, the Ministry of Justice must set up a special investigation team to probe the case, making every effort in its investigations.
Second, the KMT must investigate if the case really was a trap set up by Chen's camp. Through inquiry, it must find the truth.
Third, it would be extremely serious if the case really was a trap planned and set by the DPP. In addition, the president has already been accused of violating the law.
Thanks to the investigations into the vote-buying scandal surrounding the election of the Kaohsiung City Council speaker four years ago, city and county councilor speakership elections are now relatively clean.
Finding the truth in the current scandal would be a major milestone.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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