Taiwanese authorities are probing vote-buying allegations involving a candidate fielded by the Taiwan People’s Communist Party in this month’s Legislative Yuan election, which will be held concurrently with the island’s presidential race next Saturday.
The fringe political outfit that shares Beijing’s socialist values as its doctrine is accused of receiving funds from the mainland to buy votes, according to Taiwanese papers.
It was revealed that the party’s offices in Taipei and the southern city of Tainan were raided by agents from the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau last week, who also searched the home of the party’s candidate.
About 60 people who were members of the party or had close links with it and joined a junket to the mainland in December were also summoned for questioning.
A deputy chief prosecutor of the Investigation Bureau told reporters that some of them would be charged for contravening the National Security Act as well as provisions from the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act that outlaws accepting money or donations from a foreign entity for election campaigns.
The Taiwan People’s Communist Party was founded by Lin Te-wang in 2016 with a stated pro-reunification platform. Lin is a businessman with factories on the mainland, who was once a senior member of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party and his party is usually viewed as a spin-off from the KMT and is beholden to Beijing.
Officially, the party insists it has no subordinate relations with the Communist Party of China.
Lin is suspected of channeling money from the mainland to fund the campaigns of his party’s candidate and arranging junkets for some voters in a constituency in Tainan to visit cities in Jiangsu, Fujian and Guangdong provinces.
Those on the junket were allegedly asked to vote for the party’s candidate in exchange for many free banquets, gifts and visits to tourist attractions around these provinces, courtesy of the Chinese State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office and its branches in these provinces.
Taiwanese investigators said four-week mainland trips had been organized by the party since August 2019, with 20 to 40 people going each time.
The founder has long been put on notice by prosecutors following a preliminary investigation based on tip-offs alleging Lin had conduits to transfer money from China to buy votes in the upcoming election.
Lin and his party members, as well as those who joined the mainland junkets, may become some of the first to be charged after the island’s Legislative Yuan, controlled by the independence-learning Democratic Progressive Party, swiftly passed a new anti-infiltration law on the last day of 2019.
The law gives the government far-reaching powers to probe and charge those with close ties with the mainland, a big boost for the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking re-election as the leader of the self-governed island.
Members of the KMT are also facing similar charges laid by prosecutors. The KMT’s presidential candidate, Han Kuo-yu, has vowed to make changes to the new law once he is elected, though his chance of winning is dwindling.