Nantou County Commissioner Lee Chao-ching (李朝卿), a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), was detained by judges yesterday on charges of corruption and violations of the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法).
In line with the Local Government Act (地方制度法), Lee’s commissionership was suspended immediately by the Ministry of the Interior after the court’s decision.
The Nantou District Court ruled yesterday afternoon that Lee must be detained on the grounds that he might escape, destroy evidence or conspire with others on his statements if he was free.
The district court also granted prosecutors’ requests to detain the director of the county government’s public works department, Huang Jung-te (黃榮德), as well as Lee’s secretary, Chang Chih-yi (張誌誼), and a contractor, Wu Chung-chi (吳仲琪).
Prosecutors said they suspected that the county government received kickbacks from contractors who won public projects for fixing road damage caused by various typhoons or floods.
Saying that the county government had conducted a number of road maintenance projects between Sept. 2010 and September this year, prosecutors added they suspected that the county government divided the construction projects into smaller ones, each with a budget of NT$1 million, so it could assign contractors without inviting public tenders as required by the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法).
Prosecutors alleged that Huang and Chang were responsible for contacting Wu and other contractors, and took bribes, while part of the money allegedly later found its way into Lee’s pockets.
Almost NT$10 million (US$343,800) in dirty money was identified in 10 projects, prosecutors said.
On Thursday, the prosecutors searched Lee’s office and a number of locations, seized NT$300,000 in cash in tea bags from Lee’s office and more than NT$1 million in cash in Huang’s house, as well as NT$2.4 million in cash in Wu’s residence.
According to the prosecutors, Lee was unable to explain the origins of the money. Lee denied any involvement in the corruption, the prosecutors added.
At a separate setting yesterday, KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) said the party would start disciplinary procedures to look into Lee’s alleged involvement in the case.
Yin said the KMT respects the legal system and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who doubles as KMT chairman, has instructed the party to look into the situation and handle the case with caution.
However, the KMT late yesterday announced that its Evaluation and Discipline Committee decided to revoke Lee’s party rights over his alleged involvement in the case.
Yin said party regulations stated that KMT members should be stripped of party rights if found guilty in a first trial. The committee decided to revoke his party rights now as the public expects politicians to have integrity, he said.
Commenting on the case, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Wang Min-sheng (王閔生) said the DPP urged the Ma administration to immediately launch a comprehensive nationwide investigation into how money earmarked for post-disaster rebuilding projects was spent.
“Budgets were allocated for various post-disaster rebuilding projects to save lives and to improve the livelihood of victims in natural disasters. We can hardly believe that an elected official would receive kickbacks from the projects’ contractors,” Wang said.
This was why the current case was more serious than other corruption scandals and the Ma administration should conduct a complete probe, he added.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang