Sunflower leader reveals his murky past

Sunflower leader reveals his murky past
Students protest leaders Chen Wei-ting (front L) and Lin Fei-fan (R) shout slogans inside Parliament as more than 200 protesters -- mostly students -- occupy the building in Taipei on April 6, 2014.

Student activist leader Chen Wei-ting apologised yesterday for having sexually harassed two women over the past few years.

The Sunflower Movement leader revealed previous legal entanglements over sexual harassment incidents in an interview with a local newspaper, surprising friends, supporters and political representatives alike.

Chen recently announced he would be running for the legislator by-elections in Miaoli County, possibly being the youngest legislative candidate the nation has seen in a long time. Yet yesterday Chen chose to reveal in an interview that he had sexually harassed a female passenger on a bus three years ago, and another case that occurred in a nightclub.

After securing the consent of the female passenger, Chen received a deferred prosecution agreement from the Taipei District Prosecutors Office in his harassment case, and his "inappropriate physical contact" in nightclubs landed him in psychotherapy provided by his college.

"I admit having made these mistakes, and now is the time to say so," said Chen of what many speculated was a carefully calculated act that would help his election bid.

According to Chen's deferred prosecution documents, he had touched the left breast of the female passenger sitting next to him on a bus from Hsinchu to Taipei while the girl was asleep. The victim called for help after Chen's actions woke her up, and the bus driver drove the bus straight to a police station in Taipei.

Chen admitted his deed to the police, and was allowed one-year deferred prosecution due to the fact that he had no criminal record and agreed to pay a fine of NT$10,000 and complete a confessional statement and six hours of legal education.

Still Running

Chen said that he had chosen to discuss his past scandals for he "did not wish to lie to his voters," and if the people were bent on deliberating the subject in detail, he is willing to explain.

The student activist stated numerous times that he felt apologetic toward the two women he harassed in the past, yet his acknowledgement was not aimed to make the people understand. "I am doing this because I want people to know what I was like in the past. I will not withdraw from the elections," said Chen.

Fellow Activists 'surprised'

Chen's media representative Chen Guan-yu - also a fellow activist in the Sunflower Movement - expressed his surprise over Chen's interview confession.

"But since he has decided to run in the by-elections, (he understands) that similar problems of politicians are naturally examined by the public," said Chen Guan-yu, who added that Chen's character would be "left for the public to decide, for he has chosen to confront these problems now."

DPP Considering Running Against Chen

Previously intending to run in the legislative by-election in Miaoli, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Yi-chen had withdrawn from the race last week, saying that she would not be running against Chen.

Despite voicing negative opinions toward her party's potential cooperation with Chen after he declared he would be running in the by-elections, Wu had praised Chen for his determination.

Yet the DPP's Miaoli chapter has hinted that it may be considering nominating its own candidate in regard to Chen's scandal. The pan-green camp has also suggested that Chen withdraw from the race.

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