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MOI approves Hualien chief's deputy appointment

Fu's wife to succeed him if Fu goes to jail over two guilty verdicts

MOI approves Hualien chief's deputy appointment

The Ministry of the Interior said yesterday the appointment by new Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi of his wife as his deputy was legal because they had been legally divorced.
Fu made the surprise announcement at his inauguration in Hualien Sunday, adding he had been divorced from his wife Hsu Chen-wei since Friday.
Because under Taiwanese law, elected officials cannot appoint a member of their family living under the same roof as their deputy, the MOI said it would continue to monitor their situation.
Fu's move was interpreted as a ploy to let Hsu succeed him if he had to go to jail over two guilty verdicts linked to stock trading. The prison sentences were mentioned as the reason why the ruling Kuomintang could not name Fu as its candidate for the Dec. 5 election.
The lawmaker was expelled from the KMT for running against its official candidate, Tu Li-hua. Fu eventually beat Tu and another KMT breakaway candidate backed by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, Chang Chih-ming, by a margin of more than two to one. He won a total of 56.37 percent of the vote in the sparsely populated east coast county.
Vice Minister Chien Tai-lang said he had phoned Fu Sunday evening, and that the new county magistrate had confirmed his divorce. That statement would not stop the MOI investigation from proceeding, Chien said.
The ministry said it would not only investigate whether Fu and Hsu were still living together or not, but also check their spending habits to see if they acted like a divorced couple.
"Even though Fu and Hsu might not be breaking the law, the case left a negative impression," Chien said.
DPP legislator Wong Chin-chu said Fu was imitating a similar practice by former Taitung County Magistrate Wu Chun-li, a KMT politician facing corruption charges who officially divorced his wife Kuang Li-chen and then appointed her as his deputy. She later succeeded him as county chief.
Wong said the MOI should amend the law, or that kind of practice would happen again and again.