Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations.
Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).
The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements to coax the other side to drop out of the race or accept a subordinate position.
The judicial complaints filed by Taipei Republic Office director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) and attorney Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) said that the KMT and the TPP had, during their negotiations, set targets and conditions on how they would divide political and government positions if they were to win the election.
“Hou and Ko, with Chu and Ma acting as mediators, were wheeling and dealing on who gets to control which government ministry or other government position. It is like criminal gangs splitting the loot after a major theft. Such talk is a serious insult to the intelligence of Taiwanese,” Chen said in his complaint.
A separate investigation is being conducted on Ko’s claim last month that he was offered US$200 million to drop out of the presidential race and agree to be Hou’s running mate on the KMT ticket, Taipei prosecutors said.
Huang said this contravened Article 84 of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法).
“Anyone who makes a candidate or a person qualified for a candidate agree to abandon the campaign or to perform certain campaign activities by asking for expected promises or delivering bribes or other undue benefits to the aforesaid party shall be condemned to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than ten years, and fined a sum of not less than NT$2,000,000 [US$63,664] and not more than NT$20,000,000,” Article 84 says.
The KMT and the TPP had met several times to discuss a joint ticket, with party aides and advisers making preparations and setting conditions in October, leading to negotiations between Hou, Chu, Ma and Ko on Nov. 15, then a final meeting on Nov. 23, which independent candidate Terry Gou (郭台銘), founder of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海科技集團), also joined. The talks broke down as the parties bickered over the use of public surveys and other issues, with the principals refusing to back down from their positions.
The KMT and Ma’s office released statements lambasting Taipei prosecutors, and saying that the Taiwanese government is maligning a common practice, of parties negotiating to form a coalition government as seen in Western countries, but which the DPP has tarnished with its accusations.
Those making the accusations are the ones manipulating the justice system, the statements said.
“The TPP regrets that talk of cooperation between parties and of forming a coalition government has become a political tool to persecute the opposition,” said Wu Yi-hsuan (吳怡萱), a spokeswoman for Ko’s office, adding that the investigation is “a waste of the nation’s judicial resources.”
“The TPP shall wait for the outcome of the investigation, but our goal is still to form a coalition government to unite Taiwan. We will not back down and shall continue to create ... a better political culture for our future generations,” she said.
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