Asian Civic Group to Observe Taiwan Elections

Taipei, Jan. 6 (CNA) A civic group comprising of members from Asian democracies is scheduled to visit Taiwan next week to observe the Jan. 14 legislative and presidential elections, the Taipei-based Civil Congress Watch (CCW) said Friday.

A delegation of the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), an organization that has members from countries including Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia, will arrive in Taipei shortly before the elections, said Chen Chien-fu, a board member of the CCW, which joined the network this year.

During their visit, the four or five delegates will visit several places, such as the Central Election Commission (CEC), candidates' campaign headquarters and the offices of think tanks, Chen said, adding that they also plan to observe local elections in Chiayi and watch the ballot counting process.

He said that a post-election international press conference is also scheduled to announce their observations.

During its observation of Taiwan's 2008 elections, the group noted the country's huge electoral expenses and the intensity of the media during the election period, said Hung Yao-nan, secretary general of the Taiwan Grassroot Alliance for Peace, and member of the CCW.

However, the ANFREL recognized the generally peaceful and professional nature of the country's elections, Hung noted.

According to the ANFREL's last report, the political education of Taiwan's electorate was found to be insufficient, said Ku Chung-hwa, another CCW board member.

Ku said he had not seen much improvement with regard to educating the electorate over the past four years and urged the CEC to make more efforts.

The presidential and legislative elections will be held on the same day for the first time in Taiwan.

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