Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) is his party’s candidate for Miaoli County commissioner despite being embroiled in a corruption case over alleged bribes stemming from his time as mayor of Toufen Township (頭份).
The Taipei District Court in July last year sentenced Hsu to nine years in prison for illegal profiteering for accepting up to NT$10 million (US$332,000) in bribes in the first ruling on the case. He also lost his citizenship privileges for six years.
Hsu has appealed the verdict and continued to proclaim his innocence.
He said he would continue to fight to clear his name and to win in November.
Even though the KMT suspended his party membership after his conviction, he is still running on the party’s ticket in the Nov. 29 elections.
Hsu said that in 1998, when he was mayor, he approved a request by contractors to import dirt excavated in Taipei during construction of the city’s MRT system because a landfill site in the county needed it. The county’s department of health later notified the township that it had questions about the quality of the dirt imported, and so he revoked the approval notice, he said.
“Not one speck of dirt from the company entered the landfill site, and I never took any money. So how have I benefitted illegally from the project?” Hsu said in a recent interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).
Hsu said he was confident he would eventually win his legal fight.
“There was a full inquiry before the party’s primary and I still won 65 percent of the vote,” the lawmaker said, adding that he is certain Miaoli residents have their own thoughts on the case.
Turning to his plans for Miaoli County, Hsu said the county faces a rising debt problem and that he would make reducing the debt a priority if elected.
He urged the Legislative Yuan to quickly pass a proposed amendment to the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法).
Having represented the county in the Legislative Yuan for four years, he knows how to make a successful appeal to the central government for funding, Hsu said, adding that he had also built up his social connections during those that time.
“Should I be elected, the county’s future development would be closely linked to that of the central government’s [plans] to gain better funding,” Hsu said.
He said he backs green energy and would seek to introduce the green energy industry into the county to boost employment and increase revenue.
As for how the county can reduce expenses, Hsu said the county government should focus on limiting the maintenance fees for streetlights, sewer grates, traffic lights and other public facilities.
The county government should negotiate with local businesses to have them “adopt” certain areas, as a way of reducing public spending, Hsu said.
He also said he would use more volunteers to reduce human resource expenditures.
Too much money is being spent on public events that are not well-received, Hsu said. He said he would curb such events and use the savings to fund school lunches for children and after-class study activities.
He said he would try to balance growth in the country, which includes both mountainous areas and a large coastline, by encouraging industries and businesses to try to match the characteristics of the township where they are located or the county as a whole.
For example, the Tongsiao (通霄) and Yuanli (苑裡) areas could promote maritime aquaculture and encourage aquaculture processing plants to open their facilities for public tours, and the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Company’s brewery in Jhunan (竹南) could also help by developing a specialized “beer town” industry in the area.
On public development projects and preventing future Dapu “incidents,” Hsu said communication was key.
Four homes in Jhunan’s Dapu Borough (大埔) were demolished on July 18 last year, despite a long battle by their owners to save them, because the land had been expropriated for a science park extension project.
Chang Sen-wen (張森文), one of the residents who lost a home, died shortly afterwards. It remains unclear whether Chang committed suicide.
Hsu said he would handle such potentially inflammatory situations by keeping the benefits to the public in mind.
“The county government would strive to create a window for dialogue if incidents similar to Dapu should arise,” Hsu said.
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