Taiwanese man wanted for theft votes himself into police custody

Mandy Zuo

A Taiwanese man who had unwittingly been on a police wanted list for four years was detained at a polling station in Kaohsiung on Saturday morning after casting his vote in the island’s elections.

The 46-year-old, identified only as Gong, was apprehended at a polling station at Juguang Elementary School in the city’s Nanzih district, United Daily News reported.

Police said he was wanted in connection with an unspecified theft, but Gong said he was oblivious to his notoriety.

The authorities had discovered he was working in Nanzih and officers pounced when he went to vote, the report said.

The vote in Taiwan comes at a time of rising tensions between Taipei and Beijing. Photo: EPA-EFE

People went to the polls across Taiwan on Saturday, as Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party sought re-election as president in a race against primary opponent Han Kuo-yu, from the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang, and James Soong Chu-yu, from the People First Party.

The election comes at a time of rising tensions between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, with Tsai urging voters to exercise their democratic rights and play their part in maintaining the island’s sovereignty.

Her appeal was echoed by a local man suffering from blood cancer who won the hearts of Taiwan’s internet community this week after posting a video online in which he vowed to live long enough to cast his vote.

Lin Bei was told by doctors on Monday that he had only a few days to live, but said in his film, which was widely shared on social media on Wednesday, that he was determined to see the outcome of the poll, local media reported.

Sadly Lin did not get his wish. His family announced that he had died on Saturday morning.

At least three people are facing fines for damaging their ballot papers. Photo: EPA-EFE

Meanwhile, at least three voters are facing fines for damaging their ballot papers, the United Daily News report said.

In the east coast city of Hualien, a 70-year-old woman surnamed Huang tore up her paper after realising she had stamped the wrong box when voting for her preferred political party and was refused a new one.

Huang became enraged after officials told her she had to cast her vote despite the mistake.

Taiwanese voters get three ballots in the general election, one for their choice of president, one for a district legislator and a third for a political party.

A woman in Nantou county tore up her ballot after a similar stamping error, as did a woman in New Taipei City, who said she became nervous and voted for the wrong person, the report said.

Under Taiwanese law, people who deliberately damage their ballot papers are liable to a fine of between NT$5,000 (US$166) and NT50,000.

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