191 of 279 fake news items reported to police debunked: MOI

Image taken from Pixabay

Image taken from Pixabay

Of the 279 fake news items reported to police around the country as of Dec. 1, 191 have been proven false ahead of the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said Wednesday.

Fielding questions at a joint meeting of the legislature's Internal Administration Committee, Hsu said the Criminal Investigation Bureau has set up a task force in charge of probing misinformation, in addition to cracking down on vote-buying and illegal remittances, Hsu said.

The remaining 88 reports of fake news are still being investigated, he noted.

Meanwhile, there have been 109 cases related to vote-buying reported, with 53 people involved in four of the cases being handled by prosecutors, according to Hsu.

In addition, nine people involved in eight cases of 70 election- related gambling irregularities, and 41 connected to 57 cases out of 66 election-related violence offenses, have also been turned over to prosecutors, he added.

As part of a concerted cross-agency move to wipe out external influences in Taiwan's elections, the National Immigration Agency has tightened its screening of entry visa applications by Chinese visitors and has stepped up inspections at customs points around the country, he said.

The authorities will also strengthen their monitoring of "suspicious individuals" among those who have stayed in Taiwan for over a month, and anyone caught breaking relevant laws will be barred from re-entering the country, he said.

Giving a report on the same occasion, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) reiterated that China has been flexing its muscles over Taiwan in the run-up to the elections in a bid to coerce the public to accept its "one country, two systems" unification formula.

Beijing's efforts to meddle in Taiwan's democratic mechanism have been noted around the globe, he stressed.

Echoing his views, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tan (陳明堂) said that "outside forces" will try to steer Taiwan's elections through means such as providing financial support to favored candidates, influencing public opinion via media outlets and survey companies, persuading certain specific groups to stage protests, and collecting information detrimental to the government.