Prosecutors yesterday indicted three candidates in Saturday’s local elections, while investigators continued to probe a raft of vote-buying allegations.
The three candidates — Wei Hsueh-ching (魏雪卿), Yen Chung-chieh (閻中傑) and Tsai Sheng-hung (蔡勝烘), who are all running for the office of Taoyuan County county councilor — were indicted by prosecutors on charges of distributing presents or cash in return for promises of voter support.
In the rural township of Hsikou (溪口) in Chiayi County, prosecutors released a man surnamed Huang on NT$20,000 bail after he confessed to paying two people NT$2,000 each to vote for certain county commissioner, township chief and councilor candidates.
According to prosecutors, Huang said he had taken the initiative to offer the bribe and had not acted on behalf of any candidate.
In Pingtung County, prosecutors sought to detain Kaoshu Township (高樹) Chief Wang Shu-wei (王樹圍) in connection with alleged vote-buying activities.
The prosecutors said Wang, who is running for county councilor, was using public money to fund the activities of a specific private group in an effort to secure the support of its members.
However, the court rejected the prosecutors’ request to detain Wang, saying the evidence against him was insufficient.
In Caotun (草屯), Nantou County, prosecutors detained a female councilor candidate surnamed Hsu after a woman, whose name was withheld, was caught allegedly buying votes for the candidate.
Two of the three candidates running for township chief in Guangfu (光復), Hualien County, had earlier been detained by prosecutors in connection with vote-buying.
However, local election officials said the Guangfu polls would go ahead as scheduled on Saturday with all of the candidates on the ballot.
The candidate with the most votes will be declared the winner, even if he is in custody, and will not be stripped of his seat unless he is found guilty in court, they said.
Vote-buying has become a major issue in the elections. The Democratic Progressive Party has said that none of its candidates had been detained for election-fixing, a claim that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has rejected as “nonsense.”
Local media reported yesterday that candidates have been offering bribes ranging from NT$500 to NT$3,000 per person for voters to support them.
However, on Dongyin (東引), one of the Matsu islands making up Lienchiang County, the bribes were reportedly as high as NT$30,000 per person. Some county commissioner candidates have been collaborating with county councilor and township chief candidates to offer “package bribes” of NT$5,000 per person to voters, local media claimed.
Lin Ching-tsung (林慶宗), the chief prosecutor in Lienchiang County, said his office was looking into allegations that some candidates were offering NT$30,000 for a vote.
Lin said most residents of Lienchiang County have strong political allegiances, but foreign spouses and migrant workers from Taiwan proper are usually swing voters and are likely to be targeted in vote-buying schemes.
The prosecutor said his office was investigating nine allegations of vote-buying and 31 suspected cases of phantom voters who had taken up residence in Lienchiang four months before the election for the sole purpose of supporting specific candidates.
In another outlying island county, Kinmen, prosecutors have received 91 complaints of election-fixing, 11 of which they said appeared to be substantiated.
The KMT meanwhile yesterday accused the DPP of attempting to influence election results after DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) brother-in-law wrote an academic paper on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) support rate.
The research paper written by Tsai’s brother-in-law, National Taiwan University economy professor Liu Jin-tian (劉錦添), said about 60 percent of respondents were opposed to the government’s proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
KMT Spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said the DPP was using the poll to manipulate Saturday’s elections, adding that Tsai should not abuse academic resources to affect the election result.
“Liu is scheduled to formally release the paper on Dec. 11, but revealed the content to a certain newspaper. We suspect that the poll is being used to manipulate the elections,” Lee said. “It is clear that the DPP used the academic paper for election purposes, and we urged Tsai to acknowledge its actions.”
DPP Spokeswoman Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) yesterday shrugged off the KMT’s accusation by saying that the ECFA was a national issue that did not pertain to any candidate in particular, rendering the KMT’s allegation against the DPP moot.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JENNY W. HSU
A study published by online booking platform Expedia revealed searches for travel to Taipei have ballooned 2,786 percent following the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions due to the city being a “designation dupe” for Seoul. The TikTok trend for duping — referring to substituting a designation for a more inexpensive alternative — helped propel interest in Taipei, it said in a consumer survey titled “Unpack ‘24,” which was conducted from September to October in 14 countries. Location dupes are “every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true places travelers love,” Expedia trend tracker Melanie Fish said of the year’s popular alternatives, which
SAFETY IN REGULATION: The proposal states that Chiayi should assess whether it is viable to establish such a district and draft rules to protect clients and sex workers The Chiayi City Council passed a motion yesterday to assess the viability of establishing a regulated red-light district. The council yesterday held its last session of the year, at which its fiscal 2024 budget was approved, along with 61 other proposals. The proposal to assess the viability of establishing a red-light district was put forward by independent Chiayi City Councilor Molly Yen (顏色不分藍綠支持性專區顏色田慎節). The proposal cited 2011 amendments to the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), which stipulate that city and county governments can pass autonomous regulations on the sex trade to manage the industry and guarantee industry workers’ rights. A ban on the
A small-scale protest that called on the government to cancel its plan to welcome Indian migrant workers in a bid to tackle Taiwan’s labor shortage was held in Taipei yesterday. During the protest, comprised of a few dozen people staged in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard, the protest’s chief initiator, a woman identified only as “Yuna” said they wanted the central government to reconsider allowing migrant workers from India to enter Taiwan. Most people in Taiwan had little knowledge about the potential plan to allow in Indian migrant workers until a report in the media last month, she
STABILITY AND CHANGE: Flagging in recent polls, Ko this week pledged to maintain President Tsai’s foreign policy, with an emphasis on improving China relations Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday reiterated that he is “deep-green at heart” in response to accusations that he is pivoting his campaign to align closer with the ideology of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the face of flagging polls. Ko made the remark at an agricultural policy conference in Taipei, repeating his comments from an interview with CTS News a day earlier. Ko told the CTS host that he would continue to pursue President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) national defense and foreign policy in general, but with an emphasis on establishing a rapport with