Hundreds of additional police officers are to be deployed to safeguard public security in the buildup to a recall vote against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) on Saturday next week, National Police Agency (NPA) Deputy Director-General Tsai Tsang-po (蔡蒼柏) said yesterday, amid reports of gangsters planning to cause disruptions and dissuade people from voting.
“We are deploying additional law enforcement units and upgrading the alert level, with the NPA to deploy 500 officers to Kaohsiung to prepare for the recall vote,” Tsai told lawmakers at the legislature in Taipei.
“The NPA and the Kaohsiung Police Department have established a task force led by Kaohsiung prosecutors to coordinate efforts and any investigation,” he said. “There will be rolling reviews in the coming days to make adjustments for new developments in Kaohsiung.”
Photo: Lee Hui-chou, Taipei Times
The additional officers’ duties would include patrolling polling stations to uphold regulations against filming, violence and other illegal activities, to prevent voter intimidation, Tsai said.
He agreed with lawmakers that police must remain impartial in their work and uphold the democratic system to ensure eligible voters can cast their ballots, regardless of their political inclination.
NPA Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) on Tuesday traveled to Kaohsiung to coordinate police efforts, saying that authorities had received information about criminal elements planning to interfere in the recall vote by filming voters, disrupting lines at polling stations and other possible intimidation tactics.
“We will not tolerate activities that interfere with voting. I have demanded immediate action if there is any violence by gangsters at polling stations,” Chen said.
Asked about gangsters’ purported plans yesterday, Han said: “I am very shocked. If this is true, then the police chief should set up a task force immediately to investigate.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Kaohsiung City Councilor Huang Shao-ting (黃紹庭) questioned the need for additional police resources.
“We do not know where the police chief got his information. He should not speak about unsubstantiated reports, which stoke public anxiety and fear,” Huang said. “If police see criminals preparing to take illegal action, then they should investigate, but they should not speak about unsubstantiated rumors.”
Democratic Progressive Party Kaohsiung City Councilor Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) told reporters that “we have residents telling us that criminal elements are preparing to film at polling stations to ‘monitor’ voting.”
“It has led to people worrying about their safety and feeling threatened,” he said. “Others have said that they are afraid of violence breaking out at polling stations.”
“The police chief has ordered a strong law enforcement presence by deploying additional units for the recall vote. What is wrong with that? Why have Han and KMT officials opposed this and accused the police chief of speculation?” he added.
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