Taipei (Taiwan News) -- The Kuomintang (KMT) pledged it will strengthen measures to root out applicants with questionable criminal backgrounds after receiving 307 membership applications from gang members, the applications also raised issues of whether existing members were using dummy accounts.
One of the criminal applicants was Wan Shao-cheng (萬少丞), who allegedly was involved in the deadly beating of police detective Hsueh Chen-kuo (薛貞國) at a night club in Taipei while he was off-duty in September 2014, reported online media outlet Up Media.
Aside from the alleged murder, he is also a leader of the "Zhongshan Alliance," a division of Taiwan's largest triad Bamboo Union, and has carried out violent debt collection practices.
Wan’s membership application raises questions of whether a KMT party chairman candidate is trying to buy votes or use dummy accounts for the upcoming party chairman election scheduled to take place on May 20, 2017.
The 307 membership applications from people with criminal records all listed the same address and local party official as their referral source.
The five contenders at this year’s KMT chairman election include party Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), Hao Lung-ping (郝龍斌), KMT Vice Chairman and former Taipei mayor, former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), and former KMT vice chairman Steve Chan (詹啟賢) and Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Company general manager Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜).
Hung was first alerted of Wan’s membership application and became aware of the possible usage of dummy accounts by party members last month. She demanded party officials to thoroughly review member applications.
In response, the KMT announced it will remove Wan’s membership application if he was indeed the same person mentioned by media reports.
"We came across a man surnamed Wan who holds a criminal record when evaluating recent membership applicants," said KMT Taipei branch director Chen Yung-jen (陳永仁) in a news release. "We have returned his application to the district party branch to check if he is the same person as local media reports suggest."
The party also said they would step up their membership review process to eliminate the number of applicants with criminal backgrounds.
There has been an upsurge of KMT membership applications before the deadline on Jan. 20, 2017, in a short span of 20-days the party received 53,828 new memberships or membership restoration applications, reported SETN.com.
KMT party members have to complete membership applications before Jan. 21, 2017 to be eligible to vote for the next party chairman, but some party leaders have nonetheless found the huge number of applications alarming.
Last year, the number of KMT party membership and membership restoration applicants increased 63 percent compared to 2015 to 16,700, but the total number of applicants in 2016 excluding membership restoration applicants in late March soared 645 percent to 70,000, wrote another KMT chairman candidate Hao Lung-ping on his Facebook page.
In the last three KMT chairman elections, the total number of party members that cast votes were between 340,000 to 380,000, the addition of nearly 70,000 new party members and 30,000 restored party memberships will have a large impact on the outcome of the chairman elections, wrote Hao.
The number of memberships restored and new members amounts to 100,000 votes, which comprises nearly 30 percent of voters, based on chairman election results from the last three years.
"It is meaningless to win the chairman party elections by cheating, it does not represent public opinion," Hao told an ETTODAY reporter. "How can this person lead the KMT?"