Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ko’s campaign to review hiring, amid controversy

By Chris Wang and Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporters

The campaign office of independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) pledged to review the hiring of a substitute services military draftee as the office’s information technology adviser after a media outlet reported the controversial move yesterday.

Yen Yi-cheng (顏易程), a draftee of the three-year research and development substitute services, has been working as an aide to Ko in charge of the campaign office’s Internet services and security system, the Chinese-language Next Magazine yesterday reported.

Yen, who is scheduled to be discharged from military service on Oct. 14 next year, was also involved in other campaign activities, and Ko had ignored his aides’ warning about Yen’s sensitive status as a soldier, the report said.

In response, Ko’s office said Yen was sent by Nick Enterprise Co, a contractor, to the office.

Under the substitute services system, which is different from the compulsory military service of the past, draftees can be employed and compensated by private companies.

Ko’s campaign spokesperson Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) said Yen was not employed by the campaign office and the office did not pay him for his work.

Yen was not an aide in charge of campaign activities, she said, adding that Yen could participate in those activities after getting off from work because he was interested in the Taipei mayoral election, which is scheduled to be held on Nov. 29.

“Whether or not a substitute services draftee is allowed to work for a campaign office and participate in campaign activities is debatable. We believe it is legal, but we will review the case closely,” she said.

With regards to Yen’s future, Chien said it should be decided by Yen’s contract with Nick Enterprise Co, his employer and whether the current law interprets a campaign office’s employment of a substitute services draftee as legal.

Commenting on the controversy, the Ministry of the Interior said that, so far, Yen has not violated any law, since Yen is not legally a soldier.

However, the ministry warned that he could be breaking the law if he takes part in campaign activities.

“Although Yen is not officially a solider, we would still like to urge him to maintain administrative neutrality,” National Conscription Agency official Cho Huan-hsin (卓煥新) said. “Yen was dispatched by an information technology firm to Ko’s campaign office according to a contract, and his job involves items described in the contract.”

Cho went on to say that Yen would only be violation of the law if he takes part in campaign activities, and therefore, to avoid further questions, the agency suggests that the firm send another engineer to Ko’s campaign office.