KMT cries foul as court upholds DPP mayor's poll victory
Lawrence Chung in Taipei
Taiwan's high court has reversed a district court decision in June that annulled the electoral victory of the Kaohsiung mayor - Chen Chu of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
Ms Chen was elected mayor in the island's second largest city last December by a razor-thin margin over her Kuomintang opponent, Huang Chun-ying.
According to the ruling yesterday, although Ms Chen's camp was suspected of having damaged the reputation of Mr Huang by accusing him of vote-buying, there was no stipulation in the election and recall law to penalise such tactics.
The KMT, however, cried foul, saying it was incredible for the high court to make such a ruling, especially when it agreed that it was improper for the Chen camp to have made the allegation and still walk away without being penalised.
'I am very disappointed and find the result unacceptable, especially when the court has cleared me of vote-buying,' Mr Huang said. KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou condemned what he called a 'foul trick' by the Chen camp.
Tsai Wen-kuei, presiding judge of the Taiwan High Court, said that if members of the public were not happy with the result, they should push the legislature to revise the law to make slandering and allegations punishable.
In June, the district court found that Ms Chen's camp had unfairly affected the election result by accusing Mr Huang of vote-buying just hours before polls opened, leaving the KMT candidate no time to defend himself against the allegation. The court's decision to annul the result caused uproar among the DPP and its supporters. A furious President Chen Shui-bian accused the judges of political bias.
Yesterday a jubilant Mr Chen, who doubles as head of the DPP, hailed the high court's decision, saying it was a 'return of justice' to the DPP mayor.
The ruling means the DPP will continue to control the southern port city, one of its key strongholds.
Mr Chen then launched an attack on the KMT, saying the party refused to accept defeat whenever it lost an election. 'This has resulted in a waste of social resources,' he said, referring to the KMT taking the case to court.
The DPP mayor said her confidence in the justice system had now been restored. She vowed to do her best in the rest of her term, which will end in 2010.
Earlier yesterday, DPP activists briefly confronted police in an attempt to storm the high court, believing it would rule against Ms Chen.