Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) yesterday denounced the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for asking people not to vote in a recall poll against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), while National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) called on police to follow up on reports that gangsters are planning to intimidate voters.
Yen said that in an effort to save Han, the KMT has mobilized all of its members, who have increasingly tried to prevent Kaohsiung residents from exercising their right to vote in the poll on Saturday next week.
She called on Kaohsiung residents to have the courage to defend their right to vote, and for those who live elsewhere, but whose residence is registered in the city, to return home to cast their ballot.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
“In the past several weeks, the Kaohsiung City Government has used its administrative authority to cause delays and impede preparatory work to hold the recall vote,” Yen said.
“Then there is KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), who has called on supporters to not vote and ‘monitor’ polling stations,” she said. “This is intended to intimidate voters into giving up their right to vote.”
“We want to ask Chiang, who taught political science: Is this a tactic to subvert democracy?” she added.
No organization can deprive people of the right to vote in elections and referendums, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, Yen said.
“The campaign to recall Han is a grassroots movement by civic groups and Kaohsiung residents, so it should be up to them to decide whether to out the mayor,” she said.
“All political parties, including the DPP, must respect that residents will make this decision through their ballots. Therefore, we urge everyone to vote and have the courage to uphold their rights,” she added.
Yen also rejected allegations by the KMT that central government agencies had provided assistance to recall campaign groups.
KMT officials earlier yesterday said that the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Justice, the Central Election Commission and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp, in which the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is the largest shareholder, had assisted the recall campaign groups.
Yen said that the KMT officials aim to stigmatize Kaohsiung residents by vilifying them for supporting the recall campaign, while also making baseless accusations to malign government agencies.
Aaron Yin (尹立), founder of the Wecare Kaohsiung coalition of civic groups spearheading the recall campaign, on Monday filed a judicial complaint asking for an investigation into Han supporters who allegedly distributed pamphlets slandering him and other leading figures in the movement.
More than 100,000 pamphlets were distributed to households in Kaohsiung saying that he and other leading figures in the movement had profited handsomely from numerous city contracts thanks to their good relationship with past DPP administrations in the city, Yin said.
Separately yesterday, Chen told Kaohsiung police officials that he had received reports that gangsters, allegedly in collaboration with Han supporters, plan to intimidate voters at polling stations.
“I have ordered Kaohsiung police to work with public prosecutors and investigate,” Chen said after the meeting.
“We will not tolerate activities that interfere with voting. I have ordered that immediate action be taken if there is any violence by gangsters at polling stations, as well as investigations into any disinformation related to the recall vote,” he said.
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