The Cabinet yesterday approved a request by the Central Election Commission to replace a local government election commission chairman who defied the CEC's resolution to implement a "one-step" voting format in the upcoming elections. A CEC official warned that other local election chiefs who defy the commission's instructions will also be replaced.
The CEC received a letter from Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) yesterday approving its request to replace Taipei City Election Commission Chairman Wu Hsiu-kuang. The premier also approved the resignation of Hsinchu City Election chairman Lin Cheng-tze.
After the premier approved Wu's dismissal, the CEC yesterday submitted a second list of local election commission chiefs to be replaced. Cabinet spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) disclosed that Taichung City Election Commission chairman Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家旗) was on the list, but added that he was not sure whether the premier had approved the list.
CEC Secretary General Teng Tien-yu said that the Taipei City Election Commission had violated the Public Officials Election and Recall Law by conducting short-term training and issuing a communique in violation of the CEC's resolution on the use of a "one-step" voting format. Teng said that the CEC has the responsibility to instruct and supervise local election commissions and handle infractions in accordance with the law.
According to the Public Officials Election and Recall Law, the power to appoint and revoke the appointment of local election commission chiefs lies in the hands of the premier, Teng said. "According to personnel regulations, the premier's power to appoint (election personnel) also includes the power to revoke the appointments."
When asked whether there will be other replacements of county and city election commission chiefs, Teng said, "If same situation arises again, there will be more replacements.
As for the resignation of Taitung County Election Commission chief Chang Chiung-wen, Teng said that the CEC had not received Chang's letter of resignation and when it does, the letter will be referred to the Cabinet.
In response to the Cabinet's order to replace him as the Taipei City Election Commission chairman, Wu said, "the central government's decision has legal implications," adding that he has "no intention to resign."
Wu said that he would accept the Cabinet's decision to replace him if there was a legal foundation for the Cabinet to do so. The Cabinet's official letter notifying him of his removal provided no explanation for the decision, Wu said.
Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), executive director of the KMT's policy coordination department, yesterday said that the Cabinet's firing of Wu in such a speedy manner meant that the Cabinet felt guilty about its decision."
The Cabinet's move was aimed at punishing Wu as a warning to others, Tseng said, adding that the Cabinet has no legal grounds on which to replace local election commission chiefs.
The CEC issued a letter on Thursday to local election commissions, allowing them to adopt a CEC-proposed blueprint for polling stations that were trying to strike a balance between the "one-step" and "two-step" voting formats.
Chang said that most local election commissions had said either that they would study or accept the compromise arrangement, which would be helpful in resolving the controversy over the two formats.
The central government and KMT-controlled county and city governments have been deadlocked over the voting procedure for the legislative election slated for January 12 next year, which will be held in tandem with two referendums.
Under the "two-step" procedure, voters will receive legislative election ballots and cast them before moving on to collect referendum ballots, if they so wish.
Opposition politicians have insisted the "two-step" procedure would help to avoid chaos in the polling stations.
Under the "one-step" system, voters will collect legislative election and referendum ballots from tables 50 centimeters apart and drop them into separate boxes after they have voted.
The CEC has said such a system would better protect voters' right to secret ballot.