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.
Criticisms of corruption, a poorly managed bureaucracy and uninformed, unprincipled or unaccomplished policy in China are often met with harsh punishments. Many protesters in the “blank paper movement,” for example, have been disappeared by the authorities. Meanwhile, the WHO has asked China to provide data on its COVID-19 situation, with the Chinese government choosing to disseminate propaganda instead. The first amendment of the US Constitution, written in 1791, prohibits the US government from abridging the freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition, or religion. More than 200 years later, China, the world’s second-largest economy, still lacks the freedoms of speech and the press,
As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) constantly strives to rewrite the Taiwan narrative, it is important to regularly update and correct the stereotypes that the PRC tries to foist on Taiwan and the world. A primary stereotype is that Taiwan has always been a part of China and its corollary that Taiwan has been a part of China since time immemorial. Both are false. Taiwan has always been a part of the vast Austronesian empire, which stretched from Madagascar in the west to Easter Island in the east and from Taiwan in the north to New Zealand in the south. That
The latest Cabinet reshuffle retains top economic and finance officials in their posts. Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花), National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Thomas Huang (黃天牧) and Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) are all to remain. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), who is to be sworn in as the new premier tomorrow, reportedly wanted them to complete unfinished tasks and maintain coherent policymaking. This indicates that Tsai’s administration wants to formulate consistent and stable policies, reassure the business community and restore
The Chinese government seems to have fallen back in love with economic growth. As the chaotic exit from its “zero COVID” policy has unfolded — leading to tens of thousands of deaths (at least) — the nation’s leaders have been eager to profess their undying devotion to robust economic recovery. However, lip service alone can get China nowhere. Last month’s Central Economic Work Conference — the annual meeting where the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sets the economic policy agenda for the next year — established growth as the government’s top economic priority for this year. In the weeks