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Judge calls Kaohsiung poll ruling into question

Judge calls Kaohsiung poll ruling into question

The legitimacy of the Kaohsiung District Court ruling that annuls the result of last December's Kaohsiung mayoral election is questionable and unjustifiable, according to a judge handling the case.
Ku Chen-hui, a member of the three-person panel of judges handling the election lawsuit filed by main opposition Kuomintang candidate Huang Chun-ying after he narrowly lost to Chen Chu (陳菊) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in the December 9, 2006 election, has expressed his doubts about the ruling's legality in a six-page footnote.
Led by presiding judge Huang Hung-chin, the panel ruled in favor of Huang who accused Chen of violating campaign regulations by presenting a video on the eve of the poll allegedly showing vote-buying by Huang on a tour bus returning from one of his campaign rallies.
The video was repeatedly aired by television stations on election day. "The tactic ... was enough to influence the election result," the district court ruled in its verdict. Based on this point, the court invalidated Chen's election victory and demanded that a new election be held to select a new mayor.
However, Ku, who as the reporting judge on the panel was actually in charge of most of the investigative work, didn't see eye-to-eye with his colleagues on the judgment.
Ku outlined three questions to challenge the ruling. First of all, Ku said if Huang could not prove that Chen's claim of discovering "Huang paying 'walking fees' to those who attended his campaign rally as shown in the video" was ill-motivated, the court should not have judged it as a slanderous move or illegal campaign gambit.
Second, Ku said that since the Chen camp's negative campaign tactic at most violated the regulations related to the period for campaigning, voters' voting rights were by no means affected by such an infraction. Consequently, he said, Chen had not broken any election-related fundamental principles to justify the "annulment" ruling.
Third, Ku said that in the conducting of election campaigns, exposing political rivals supposedly illegal campaign gambits, such as vote-buying on a tour bus, is part of freedom of speech which is protected by the Constitution. A complete ban on such moves could infringe upon personal freedom of speech, he added.
In his view, Ku said, the court's hyperboling a candidate's negative campaigning gambit as a criminal act and employing it as a reason to invalidate the candidate's election vitory would hobble protection of the candidate's freedom of speech and ordinary voters' exercise of their voting rights.
Moreover, Ku said that in this case, there has not been sufficient evidence to prove that Chen herself was involved in the conduct of the "walking fee" campaign gambit. Therefore, he said it's inappropriate to hold Chen herself equally responsible for violations of the Election and Recall Law by her campaign aides who unveiled the controversial video at an election eve news conference after the legal campaign period had expired.
Chen announced at a Friday night press conference that she will appeal the case because "the ruling was unreasonable."
"I want to let everyone know that I am the legal mayor and that I will strive for justice," she added.


Updated : 2021-05-14 08:14 GMT+08:00