DPP distances itself from supporter of pro-DPP cyber army
Taipei, Dec. 3 (CNA) The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Tuesday distanced itself from a DPP-linked figure who was indicted Tuesday for having an internet troll insult Taiwan's office in Osaka, criticism that may have contributed to the suicide of the office's chief.
DPP spokeswoman Lee Yen-jong (李晏榕) said the behavior of Slow Yang (楊蕙如) was her own doing and had nothing to do with the party.
The DPP fully respects the prosecutor's decision to hand down the indictment, she said.
Lee was responding to Monday's indictment by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office, which charged Yang with insulting public officials after she allegedly hired internet troll Tsai Fu-ming (蔡福明) to make derogatory posts on popular online forum PTT.
These posts were part of heavy online criticism directed at the representative office for its perceived lack of assistance for Taiwan nationals who were stranded at Kansai Airport after Typhoon Jebi devastated the area in early September 2018.
The posts also defended the role of Taiwan's top envoy to Japan, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), in the incident, saying the political appointee had little control over the representative office that was headed by career diplomat Su Chii-cherng (蘇啓誠).
About a week later, Su hung himself in his residence in Osaka on Sept. 14, and Hsieh said at the time that he believed the criticism targeting the office was one of the main reasons for his suicide.
In their investigation, prosecutors found that the IP address of the PTT account with the username "idcc" that made inflammatory posts were linked directly to Yang.
Yang paid Tsai NT$10,000 (US$325) per month in exchange for his services, but Tsai said he was the sole person responsible for posting the comments.
Both Yang and Tsai were indicted Monday on the same charges, which carry a maximum six-month jail term or a fine of NT$30,000.
Yang is well known in Taiwan, largely because of her ability in 2006 to make more than NT$1 million from her use of credit card reward points.
She was a member of Hsieh's campaign team responsible for online electioneering when he ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008. Hsieh was the DPP chairman from 2000 to 2002 and served as premier in 2005.
He assumed the post as the nation's top representative to Japan in May 2016.
Due to the close connection between Yang and Hsieh, and Yang's reputation as a supporter of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and its presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) asked Hsieh and the DPP to explain if they were behind or financed Yang's alleged behavior.
In a Facebook post later Tuesday, Hsieh wrote "should I be responsible for everything Slow Yang has done?"
Meanwhile, a dozen KMT members held a protest outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' headquarters in Taipei on Tuesday afternoon, demanding an explanation.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said Tuesday it would not comment on the case, said it was too early to tell if Yang's alleged actions contributed to Su's suicide.
Meanwhile, President Tsai did not directly comment on the indictment, saying only that her administration is taking steps to prevent the spread of misinformation.
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