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New CEC head assumes post, vows to maintain administrative neutrality

2019/06/03 21:41:57

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) Former Yunlin Magistrate Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) vowed Monday to maintain the independence and administrative neutrality of the Central Election Commission (CEC) in accordance with the law as he officially assumed the post of CEC chairman.

Lee was nominated in February to fill the vacancy left by Chen In-chin (陳英鈐), who resigned the day after the local elections and 10 referendums held Nov. 24, last year, amid heavy criticism of his handling of the polls and subsequent vote-counting.

The Legislature confirmed Lee's nomination May 28.

During the changeover ceremony Monday, Lee said that when Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) decided in February to nominate him to head the CEC, the only task he was entrusted with was to address problems that arose during the local government elections last November.

The elections were held concurrently with the 10 referendums, leading to long lines of people waiting to cast their ballots at polling stations and a delayed ballot count.

However, out of consideration that the nomination might have been criticized, Su also asked Lee to deal with his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) membership issue.

Therefore, after he was nominated, he immediately renounced his party membership in a show of his commitment to remaining neutral in the discharge of his CEC duties, Lee said as addressing the ceremony.

Since his nomination, his party membership has come into question, Lee said, but from a legal perspective, there is no stipulation in the Central Election Commission Organization Act barring people with political party membership from serving as CEC members.

Instead, Article 3 of the act stipulates that members of the same political party shall not exceed one-third of the total number of members, meaning that CEC members are in fact allowed to hold political party membership, Lee noted.

Due to Lee's longtime affiliation with the DPP, however, his nomination has faced fierce opposition and led CEC member Chang Sue- chung (張淑中) to resign in protest May 28.

After taking the post, Lee told reporters that he will work to address all the issues in the election system to avoid a repetition of the voting chaos of last November.

Meanwhile, Lee said he will push a Cabinet-proposed draft bill that stipulates that a referendum does not have to be held on the same day as a national election.

Lee, 67, who holds a Master's degree in law at National Taiwan University, was previously a district court judge in Hualien, Yilan and Taichung.

He also served as a DPP lawmaker in the Legislative Yuan, Keelung mayor, vice interior minister, vice minister of the Public Construction Commission, vice justice minister, and vice minister of transportation and communications before becoming Yunlin magistrate in 2014.

In the Nov. 24 elections, Lee failed to secure a second term as Yunlin magistrate, losing to Kuomintang candidate Chang Li-shan (張麗善).

(By Wang Cheng-chung and Evelyn Kao)
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