Political parties are clamoring to pass amendments to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) to root out corruption, after several officials were accused of fraud following last year’s nine-in-one elections. Last week, newly elected Tainan City Council Speaker Chiu Li-li (邱莉莉) and Deputy Speaker Lin Chih-chan (林志展) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were charged with vote-buying, while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Standing Committee member Hsiao Ching-tien (蕭景田) was released on NT$15 million (US$494,805) bail after facing a similar charge.
Chiu late last month defeated incumbent speaker Kuo Hsin-liang (郭信良) in a 36-21 vote for Tainan council speaker — an election in which three KMT councilors unexpectedly broke party ranks to back the DPP nominee. Soon after, prosecutors searched 26 locations and questioned 10 people, before Chiu and Lin were charged with vote-buying and released on bail of NT$500,000 and NT$200,000 respectively. Hsiao was charged on allegations of vote-buying on behalf of KMT Taipei City Council candidate Lin Hsin-er (林杏兒).
Taiwan has tried to shake off “black gold” in local politics and elections for decades, since the lifting of martial law in 1987 and the democratic reforms of the 1990s. However, politicians’ ties to organized crime, patronage networks and vote-buying have been difficult to remove completely. The corruption mostly stems from city, county and township councilors’ authority over local budgets, worth billions of dollars for the nation’s 22 administrative regions, as well as the enormous interests in local construction and businesses.
In 2015, then-Tainan City Council speaker Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) of the KMT was indicted for vote-buying in councilor and council speaker elections. In response, the legislature amended the Local Government Act (地方制度法) to require that council speakers and deputy speakers be elected by open ballots. Nevertheless, those measures have obviously failed to eradicate election fraud.
In last year’s nine-in-one elections, prosecutors nationwide received more than 5,000 reports of alleged vote-buying, and authorities have filed to nullify fraudulent votes involving 187 elected officials, the Ministry of Justice said. Election fraud continued despite police vowing an anti-corruption campaign and political parties committing to running “clean” elections.
To eliminate vote-buying, the DPP and KMT have proposed amendments to the Election and Recall Act. Former Tainan County commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) has suggested replacing the council election system with a proportional representation scheme based on votes for political party. Sankei Shimbun Taipei bureau chief Akio Yaita has suggested reducing city council speakers’ authority over local budgets to reduce the enticement for election fraud.
More importantly, political parties should show determination to cut ties with “black gold” politicians, not just suspending or delisting the membership of offenders after they are accused of fraud. Additionally, the electorate should vote for reformists, not just candidates pointing their fingers at others’ mistakes.
Vice President William Lai (賴清德), who was mayor of Tainan from 2010 to 2017 and well-known for refusing to attend city council meetings in protest of Lee’s alleged vote-buying, was on Sunday elected as DPP chairman. Lai and the DPP need to clean up the party’s rules for membership and nomination for elections. The KMT, the Taiwan People’s Party and any party interested in backing a candidate for president next year should do more to ensure a clean election.
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) might be accused of twice breaking his promises and betraying the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), then launching a signature drive for himself to stand as a candidate in January’s presidential election, only to turn around and quit the race. It clearly shows that rich people are free to do as they like. If that is so, then Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is the perfect example of a political hack who changes his position as easily as turning the pages of a book. Taiwanese independence supporters
On Nov. 15, US President Joe Biden reiterated the US’ commitment to maintaining cross-strait peace and the “status quo” during a meeting with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping (習近平) on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California. However, Biden refrained from making clear to Xi what Taiwan’s “status quo” exactly is (as the US defines it). It is not the first time Taiwan’s legal status has become an issue of contention. In September, Tesla CEO Elon Musk caused a media storm after he referred to Taiwan as “an integral part of China” during an interview. This ignorance about
Since the rancorous and histrionic breakup of the planned “blue-white alliance,” polls have shown a massive drop in support for Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), whose support rate has dropped to 20 percent. Young people and pan-blue supporters seem to be ditching him. Within a few weeks, Ko has gone from being the most sought after candidate to seeking a comeback. A few months ago, he was the one holding all the cards and calling the shots, with everything in place for a rise to stardom. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was still dealing with doubts
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications on June 30 implemented regulations stipulating that drivers could be fined NT$6,000 if they do not yield to pedestrians. The new rules have been enforced effectively, and gradually, Taiwan is leaving behind the notorious reputation of being “a hell for pedestrians.” However, rules should be reasonably implemented. Recently, in a dashcam video posted on YouTube, a driver passed through an intersection, while a pedestrian was crossing the street even though the light was red. Fortunately, although the driver, who had a green light, did not stop, the pedestrian was not hit. Nevertheless, the driver was