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Ko denies paying conscript
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-23 03:54 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The campaign of opposition Taipei City mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je denied magazine allegations Wednesday that it was paying a man fulfilling alternative military service to work at its headquarters.

Chinese-language Next Magazine alleged that the man it named as Yen Yi-cheng employed by Ko as his chief adviser for Internet and security systems was listed by the Ministry of Interior as a conscript. His alternative military service lasted from October 2012 until October 2015, the magazine wrote.

The ministry said that even though people like Yen were not listed as military staff, they still needed to observe administrative impartiality. If he ran along with Ko on the campaign trail, he would have to be replaced by another engineer, the ministry said, while the company employing him might lose its license to use conscripts.

Ko campaign spokeswoman Chien Yu-yen denied that it paid Yen directly. The campaign had contracted the work out to a company, which had sent in Yen as its employee, she said.

In a statement, the Ko campaign wondered whether it was illegal for a company to send in a man during his service to work at an election headquarters. The campaign would reflect on the incident, the statement said, adding that the setting up of the headquarters was still in its infancy and had therefore met with many problems.

Chien defended the legality of using Yen, but added that it would rethink if the outside world felt it was inappropriate. The Ko campaign was reaching the stage where the use of staff was becoming better organized, she said.

Whether Yen would have to leave the campaign staff was up to the law and to talks between the campaign and his employer, she told reporters.

Media reports alleged that the systems specialist had acted as driver for Ko and had appeared at campaign events, but Chien said she was not aware of those reports. If he had joined the public at Ko rallies, it would have been during his time off, she said.

A spokesman for Ko’s main rival, Kuomintang candidate Sean Lien, said the opposition contender owed the public an explanation. Respecting the law was a basic requirement for a candidate, the Lien camp said, so Ko should not hide behind his staff.

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