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ELECTION 2024/Pingtung Council speaker indicted in Terry Guo signature buying case

02/21/2024 09:14 PM
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An ad placed for Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou's campaign to collect signatures for his presidential bid is seen in Taipei on Nov. 14, 2023. CNA file photo
An ad placed for Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou's campaign to collect signatures for his presidential bid is seen in Taipei on Nov. 14, 2023. CNA file photo

Pingtung County, Feb. 21 (CNA) Pingtung County Council Speaker Chou Tien-lun (周典論) has been indicted on suspicion of buying signatures for business tycoon Terry Gou's (郭台銘) presidential run, the Pingtung District Prosecutors Office said Wednesday.

The Pingtung County Council speaker, who remains in custody after being detained last December, had been charged with violations of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act, according to prosecutors.

Prosecution of Chaozhou Township head Chou Pin-chuan (周品全), detained alongside Chou Tien-lun but released in January, has been deferred.

After receiving a tip-off the duo bought signatures for Gou for NT$200 (US$6.43) apiece, investigators raided the residences and offices of both men and brought them in for questioning, according to prosecutors.

The Pingtung District Court later approved a motion to detain the pair, both members of the main opposition Kuomintang, in late December 2023.

Gou, the founder of major Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (known internationally as Foxconn), announced his bid to run for president as an independent in late August 2023.

To get his name on the ballot, Gou needed to collect 289,667 valid signatures from Taiwanese citizens, representing 1.5 percent of eligible voters in the 2020 presidential election.

Gou began collecting endorsements on Sept. 20 last year and officially reached the threshold with a total of 902,389 signatures, according to the Central Election Commission.

Despite getting enough signatures, Gou, who was trailing in opinion polls with single-digit support, decided to drop out of the race and not formally register his candidacy by the Nov. 24, 2023 deadline.

(By Tsai Meng-yu, Chao Yen-hsiang and Evelyn Kao)

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