A female ward chief candidate and her husband were indicted Monday for accepting China’s offer of rapid test kits to be used to help them buy votes, an offense that could send them to jail for up to 15 years.
In its indictment, the Shilin District Prosecutors Office said Chiu Jui-lien (邱瑞蓮), a candidate to head Qingbai ward in Taipei’s Neihu District, and her husband, surnamed Chen (陳), were found to have distributed China-made rapid test kits to people in their ward ahead of Saturday’s local government elections.
The couple had worked as community construction planners in China’s Fujian Province between 2018 and 2020, the prosecutors office said, and indicated that Chiu was running for ward chief in Qingbai this year after her husband failed in two previous attempts.
To help build support for Chiu, they imported a total of 6,000 COVID-19 rapid test kits through 60 different proxies in May and June, and distributed them as an incentive to potential voters, prosecutors said.
The couple “knew” that (the law) bans people from accepting financial assistance from sources of infiltration — the governments of foreign hostile forces and their organizations, institutes or personnel dispatched by them — to engage in acts in violation of the Civil Servants Election Recall Act, prosecutors said.
They indicted the two on charges of violating the Anti-Infiltration Act, the Civil Servants Election Recall Act, and Regulations for Governing the Management of Medical Device.
A legal source told CNA that the penalties for vote buying under the Civil Servants Election Recall Act range from 3-10 years in prison, which could reach 4.5-15 years when offenses against the Anti-Infiltration Act are added.
On Aug. 4, Taipei health department officials raided the office of the ward’s community development association and found 19 cartons containing 127 boxes of test kits, each with five test kits, according to the indictment.
The indictment stated that Chiu and Chen had received an offer from the Pingtan comprehensive experimental zone in Fujian Province to provide them with a large number of rapid test kits.
The two then provided the zone with the information of 60 proxies who would each receive around 100 rapid test kits during May and June.
After acquiring the rapid test kits, Chiu and Chen informed ward residents through flyers and Facebook, asking them to pick up the rapid test kits June 24-26 and vote for Chiu for ward chief on Nov. 26, according to the indictment.
The acquisition of the 6,000 rapid test kits violated a regulation of the Food and Drug Administration, which requires people to apply for authorization if they import more than 100 rapid test kits from China, the indictment states.
The two did not admit to any wrongdoing at first while being investigated, saying only that they had distributed the rapid test kits as charity, the indictment said.
Chiu did admit later that she had gotten the kits from China, for which she did not apply for authorization.
Taking into account that the couple had social connections in China, and had access to rapid test kits in May and June, for which Chiu thanked the experimental zone, the prosecutor charged Chiu and Chen for being involved in a Chinese infiltration attempt and vote buying.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel