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Huang Ching-tai to run as independent as prosecutors continue searches
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-09-04 08:03 PM
Investigators searched the residence of former Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai for the fourth time Thursday, looking for evidence related to corruption and influence peddling involving Huang and other members of the city council. Meanwhile the KMT is scrambling to work out a new strategy for the mayor’s election in Keelung after Huang announced a couple of days ago that he is resigning from the party and running as an independent.

Huang was originally named by the KMT as its candidate for Keelung mayor, but the party withdrew the nomination in July after the corruption charges were raised by the Keelung District Prosecutors Office. The party nominated former director of the National Immigration Agency Hsieh Li-kung to take Huang’s place, but Huang refused to go gently into that resolution of the problem, insisting that he had enough support to register as a candidate and refusing to step aside.

Now Huang is comparing himself to the legendary general Cao Cao and claiming that the upcoming election will be the “Keelung version” of the historical epic “The Three Kingdoms,” referring to a race between a KMT candidate, a DPP candidate and a defrocked former KMT candidate turned independent. Quoting Cao Cao, Huang notes placidly that "One must be dignified in order to pacify a troubled state," pointing out that even after the KMT disowned him and he decided to leave the party, the sun still sets in the west.

Huang’s departure and threat to run as an independent could mean a fatal split in the Keelung mayoral election this year for the KMT, which has dominated the office for a decade and a half and holds an advantage estimated at a ratio of about 6 to 4 over the DPP among voters in the city. Now, however, the party faces the challenge of countering the Green candidate as well as an ex-KMT with a considerable base of local support.

Su Hsien-chi of the Keelung Municipal Election Commission reports that Huang has successfully completed registration and will be eligible to run even if he is in custody on the date of the election. Su explains that the Election and Recall Law does not bar a candidate who has not yet been sentenced from running.

There are ample precedents for Huang’s action. In 2005, for example, candidate Su You-ren was in custody in Banqiao when voting took place for the mayor of Yingge, yet he was able to garner enough ballots to win the election. There have also been numerous examples of politicians who were barred from office and simply turned to a spouse or an offspring to run in their place.

Keelung prosecutors launched their fourth search of Huang’s residence at 7:30 Thursday morning in conjunction with agents from the Bureau of Investigation. They emerged shortly afterwards with several boxes and paper bags filled with files in an attempt to bolster charges against the former city council speaker.

Huang later recounted that a large number of people entered his house to conduct a search in the morning, but they did not stay long. He added that "being searched was not an accident – we expected them to do that."

Last month prosecutors brought charges against a number of members of the city council staff including the filing of false invoices and misuse of public funds. Chang Wei-chi, the council’s parliamentary secretary, has been charged with theft and misappropriation of public property, a felony offense which carries a penalty of more than 10 years in prison. A Keelung court ruled that he might try to flee or contact others in the case and he is being held incommunicado.

Chang’s lawyer says his client has already admitted guilt, and prosecutors reportedly suspect that Huang Ching-tai may be implicated as well, thus they petitioned the court for another search warrant for Thursday’s action

Hsieh Li-kung, the officially-endorsed KMT candidate for mayor in Keelung, said Thursday that Huang’s decision was regrettable. At the same time, he expressed confidence that he would win the election for mayor by campaigning on better policy planks.

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