The newly elected members of the county assemblies were sworn in on Monday. Their only order of business for the day was to elect a speaker and vice-speaker. Traditionally, this election has been the single most corrupt moment in Taiwanese politics. County assembly members tend to run much more clientelistic campaigns than politicians at higher levels do. One way they recoup their expenses is by selling their votes in the speaker and vice speaker elections. This is further complicated by the penetration of organized crime. Three decades ago, organized crime largely participated by sponsoring candidates. However, in the wake of government crackdowns in the late 1980s, organized crime figures began running for office themselves in order to get a bit of protection from the local police. During the 1990s, speaker elections often pitted one crime leader against another, and there were constant threats of bribery, blackmail, kidnapping, violence, and other types of coercion. In Yunlin County in 1998 (if memory serves correctly), 2000 police were mobilized to provide security outside the county assembly, and everyone entering was searched for weapons.
The speaker elections are also the easiest for prosecutors to crack down on. Since there are a limited number of people involved and everyone is easily identifiable, prosecutors have been able to track bank accounts and document cases of vote-buying. The extent to which prosecutors have investigated and brought charges, and to which convictions have been upheld as they worked their way through the judicial system has traditionally been seen as an indication of the government’s sincerity in cracking down on money politics.
With that introduction, here is the list of newly elected speakers and vice-speakers:
|Ilan County||Speaker||張建榮||Zhang Jianrong||KMT|
|Jilong City||Speaker||黃景泰||Huang Jingtai||KMT*|
|Taoyuan County||Speaker||邱奕勝||Qiu Yisheng||KMT|
|Hsinchu County||Speaker||陳見賢||Cheng Jianxian||KMT|
|Hsinchu City||Speaker||謝文進||Xie Wenjin||IND|
|Miaoli County||Speaker||游忠細||You Zhongxi||KMT|
|Changhua County||Speaker||謝典霖||Xie Dianlin||KMT|
|Nantou County||Speaker||何勝豐||He Shengfeng||KMT|
|Yunlin County||Speaker||蘇金煌||Su Jinhuang||KMT*|
|Chiayi County||Speaker||余政達||Yu Zhengda||IND|
|Chiayi City||Speaker||林承勳||Lin Chengxun||IND|
|Pingdong County||Speaker||林清都||Lin Qingdu||KMT|
|Taidong County||Speaker||饒慶鈴||Rao Qingling||KMT|
|Hualian County||Speaker||楊文直||Yang Wenzhi||KMT|
|Penghu County||Speaker||劉陳昭玲||Liu Chen Zhaoling||KMT|
|Jinmen County||Speaker||王再生||Wang Zaisheng||IND|
|Lianjiang County||Speaker||陳貴忠||Chen Guizhong||IND|
|* beat the official KMT nominee|
The following draw on reports from the United Daily News.
The new speaker of Taidong County, Rao Qingling饒慶鈴, is the daughter of longtime KMT legislator Rao Yingqi 饒穎奇.
In Lianjiang County, the outgoing speaker retired, and several members wanted to replace him. Since everyone in Lianjiang County is blue, the KMT did not nominate anyone. One of the people hoping to contest the speaker election was Xie Chengchun 謝承春. However, Xie is under investigation for vote buying, and the local prosecutors detained him. As such, he was unable to show up and take his oath of office, and he was ineligible to contest (or vote in) the speaker election.
In Jilong City, the DPP got played. It had previously cooperated with KMT member Zhang Fangli 張芳麗 to make her speaker. However, as a condition for nomination this time, the KMT made Zhang promise not to cooperate with the DPP. The DPP instead threw its support to another KMT member, Huang Jingtai黃景泰. In return, the DPP was to get the vice-speaker position. Huang was indeed elected over the KMT nominee, but the coalition fell apart in the subsequent vice-speaker election which the KMT nominee won. The DPP caucus immediately accused Huang of betraying them and brought out a document signed by Huang and one other KMT ally to show their duplicity. They also charged Mayor Zhang Tongrong 張通榮of having overseen the negotiations but then not upholding his end of the bargain. Huang and his ally replied by saying that they had indeed voted for the DPP nominee, and it must have been other people who did not sign the agreement who changed sides. Mayor Zhang basically said, “Leave me out of this.”
The same thing happened in Yunlin County. The DPP allied with KMT member Su Jinhuang 蘇金煌, agreeing to support Su as speaker in exchange for the vice-speaker position. Su was elected speaker, but the DPP vice-speaker candidate lost to the KMT nominee.
The ground shifted in Chiayi City. The Xiao family has run the Chiayi City Council since 1993. There are three brothers, Xiao Dengwang 蕭登旺, Xiao Dengshi 蕭登獅, and Xiao Dengbiao 蕭登標. They have backgrounds in organized crime. Xiao Dengbiao was jailed in 1998, and Xiao Dengshi was one of the main figures organizing the recent baseball gambling operation. Xiao Dengbiao was Chiayi County Assembly Speaker in the mid and late 1990s. In Chiayi City, the speaker position was held for several terms by Xiao Dengwang and then by Xiao Dengshi’s wife, Cai Guisi 蔡貴絲. The KMT nominated Cai for another term as speaker, but the DPP-supported Lin Chengxun林承勳 had roughly the same amount of support. The deciding vote belonged to DPP member Huang Yingzhi 黃盈智. Huang had been out of the country until after Xiao Dengshi was arrested and was rumored to have been “detained” by “friends” so that he would not be able to vote. (This is a classic tactic to ensure that a bought vote stays bought. Get them out of the country where your opponent can’t influence them, and only bring them back on the morning of the election inside your entourage.) Huang did show up, accompanied by Lin, and he cast the deciding vote. Lin won by one vote. However, Huang then voted against the DPP candidate for vice-speaker, allowing the KMT nominee to win the spot. Huang admitted this vote, and claimed the KMT nominee had helped him in the past and he was merely doing the right thing.
This is slightly different from the Jilong and Yunlin cases because this was a DPP member betraying his own party, not KMT or independents reneging on their end of the bargain. It is also something of a departure in that the person who certainly looks to have been paid off is a DPP member. In the past, these stories have always centered around KMT and independent assembly members.
New Changhua County vice-speaker Bai Minjie白閔傑is the son of former speaker Bai Hongsen 白鴻森. Bai Minjie is only 34, so let’s assume that his father is still the power behind the throne. This would be fine except that, unless I’m mistaken, Bai Hongsen has been convicted of something and is on the lam in China.
In Ilan, the DPP had several members desert. The DPP has 15 members, but its nominee for speaker only got 9 votes. Since most of the members showed their ballots to the camera before putting them into the ballot box, they know who the 6 disloyal members are. (One voted for himself. This is also a classic tactic for a person who has been bought off. It allows the member to have a plausible cover story to protest his innocence while still helping the other side.)
Incumbent Nantou speaker He Shengfeng何勝豐 joined the KMT upon being re-elected. He has been an independent.
In Hsinchu County, former DPP county assembly member, legislator, and county party branch chair Lin Weizhou林為洲 was elected vice-speaker. Lin left the DPP during his term in the legislature (I don’t remember why) and served out his term as an independent. He joined the KMT after being elected to the county assembly as an independent. However, he was not the KMT’s nominee for vice-speaker. According to the UDN report, KMT nominee Zhang Zhihong 張志弘 took the office for granted after being nominated and went overseas on vacation. Lin easily defeated him. Sounds fishy to me.
The KMT has sunk to pathetic depths in Chiayi County. Not only did the KMT lose both the speaker and vice-speaker positions to the IND-DPP coalition, they lost in landslides. The vote was 27-9 in the speaker election, and 30-7 in the vice-speaker election. There are 10 KMT members in the assembly. However, the KMT county party office “explained” that no one had been disloyal since one of the KMT members was very close to the speaker and three were close to the vice-speaker. Yikes.
There was one touching story from Hsinchu City. Six-term KMT member Luo Keming 駱克銘, who is suffering from advanced oral cancer, tried to get out of his hospital bed to vote for the KMT speaker nominee Zheng Chengguang 鄭成光. Luo and Zheng have been friends for 45 years. Luo was brought to the city council building on a stretcher, but was unable to complete the oath of office. Since he was using a respirator, and the doctors feared fatal consequences if it were removed, he was unable to make any sounds. He was only able to move his lips while reading the oath. The person officiating the oath ruled that he had not completed it, so Luo kept trying. Zheng finally stepped in and asked Luo to go back to the hospital. Zheng desperately needed Luo’s vote, as he eventually lost to a DPP-IND coalition.
Tags: speaker election