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Prosecutors question Chen, raid home

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Tainan District prosecutors also raided the residence of former first lady Wu Shu-jen’s brother, Wu Ching-mao, reportedly seizing some documents

By Jimmy Chuang

Sunday, Aug 17, 2008, Page 1

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his wife Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) were questioned yesterday and their home searched on suspicion of money laundering, a prosecutor said.

“We went to Chen’s residence and his office to probe the case ... The former president and his wife explained the fund transfers,” said Chu Chao-liang (朱朝亮), a spokesman for the Special Investigation Panel (SPI) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.

Chu said prosecutors did not have warrants, but that Chen and Wu had been cooperative.

“The couple told us that the money in the [overseas] bank accounts had nothing to do with any scandals and that the money was intended for use as public funds,” Chu said.

The prosecution will next study documents and information gathered at the house, he said.

Because Wu appeared to be in poor health, the prosecutors agreed not to record her remarks as an affidavit, he said.

At 4pm yesterday, Tainan District prosecutor Chou Wen-hsiang (周文祥) was also commissioned by the SPI and led a team in raiding the residence of the former first lady’s brother, Wu Ching-mao (吳景茂), in Tainan. The investigators reportedly left with some documents.

On Thursday, Chen apologized to the public for not clearly accounting for his campaign contributions, admitting that the failure to report campaign funds in full was “not permitted by the law.” Chen said Wu had wired abroad funds left over from his election campaigns without his knowledge.

Earlier that same day, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) made public copies of documents showing the Federal Department of Justice and Police of the Swiss Confederation had requested assistance from Taiwan in a case of suspected money laundering by Chen’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), and daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚), through two Swiss bank accounts.

The former president has denied involvement in money laundering.

On Friday, he withdrew from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and apologized for mismanaging campaign funds.

A Taiwanese prosecutor left for Switzerland and is expected to review the accounts under the name Huang at Merrill Lynch Bank.

Chen Chih-chung and Huang left for the US on Saturday last week. Chu said yesterday that prosecutors had asked the former president and first lady to urge the pair to return to Taiwan as soon as possible to answer questions.

Chen Shui-bian is also battling charges he misused public funds.

Wu Shu-jen was charged with corruption and forgery in 2006 for using receipts provided by others to claim reimbursements from the president’s “state affairs fund.”

Chen Shui-bian, who was immune from prosecution while in office, was named as a co-defendant in the case after he completed his second presidential term in May.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary-General Hsueh Hsiang-chuan (薛香川) yesterday dismissed allegations by DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) that he leaked information to Hung to manipulate the case against the former president.

Ker’s claim is groundless, Hsueh was quoted by the Central News Agency as saying.

Also See: Chairwoman calls on DPP to unite

Listen to the voice

Respect for the civil service system

By Tsai Ing-Wen 蔡英文
Sunday, Aug 17, 2008, Page 8

Less than a month after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration took office, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus demanded that the Cabinet conduct a thorough examination of staffers from the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, with Premier Liu Chao-hsiuan (劉兆玄) promising to come up with an appropriate response to fulfill public expectations.

This was followed by the Cabinet’s order for all ministries to replace officials who cling to the “old mindset” — an apparent reference to the old administration. One official who rejected the KMT administration’s move to purge career civil servants was then deputy secretary-general of the Cabinet Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶), who refused an unexpected transfer to another civil post and chose to retire.

The way the Ma administration has treated the civil service system since its accession to power highlights a serious problem: Even though Taiwan has experienced two transfers of power, the administration still questions the mindset and party loyalties of the nation’s civil servants. The public should pay attention to the possible “chilling effect” that this might have: Civil servants could become obsequious, afraid to speak their mind and assume responsibility for fear of being a target of criticism after a transition of power.

Although the KMT had earlier ruled as an authoritarian party-state regime, it did undertake a complete privatization of the civil service system. It cannot be denied that the DPP also made some changes as to who was employed as civil servants after taking power in 2000 and that better approaches could have been adopted. These are mistakes that the DPP made and we should examine where the party went wrong. Although there was some friction between the administration and the civil service system during its eight years in power, the DPP did put the system on the right path to “nationalization.”

As ruling parties change in a democratic regime, political appointees also come and go. However, career civil servants are different. These are the people that protect a nation’s interests. They are human resources that the nation has cultivated for a long time — an important asset as well as the backbone of the country. These people should not be tainted by any political party nor purged.

Civil officials or public servants play a significant role in a democratic political system. No matter how many times power changes hands or the Cabinet is reshuffled, a solid network of professional civil servants could contribute to government stability. As Taiwan has been through two major power transitions, the majority of civil officials have experienced working under different political parties in power. They are well acquainted with what democracy means and have a strong association with the country. For them, the transfer of power is a democratic norm. Their loyalties lie not with any political party, but with the public. The nation has outstanding civil servants and I cannot understand how those in power can be so hardhearted as to make this group of workers afraid that they might be replaced any time.

The nation has made amazing progress in democracy, but there is still much room for improvement. This is why the DPP has been devoted to pushing forward a new political culture. To end this vicious conflict between the pan-blue and pan-green camps and bring real peace to society, a new political culture should be a goal that all Taiwanese strive for.

A new political culture involves establishing a professional, stable, worry-free and non-partisan civil service system. Public servants should be the backbone of the country instead of a tool for political maneuvering. A ruling party can be replaced, and so can the president. However, professional civil servants and systems should remain fixed to ensure consistency and continuity within the administrative system. Civil officials who assume responsibility for their duties and focus on serving public and national interests are excellent civil servants. They are not a product of the outdated mindsets left behind from the last government, nor should they be scapegoats for the impotence of the current government.

The civil service system is a network of professionals that works on equal division of labor and cooperation. It should not be affiliated with either the pan-green camp or the pan-blue camp. Purging career civil officials will undermine not only their morale but also government stability.

We truly hope that the Ma administration will stop these purges immediately and make this outdated political thinking a thing of the past. Regardless of which party rules in the future, the highest respect should be shown to the civil service system. The promotion of a new political culture following the transfer of power should begin with respecting the professional skills of our civil servants.

Tsai Ing-wen is the chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party.


Listen to the voice

EDITORIAL: Hey Ma, that little girl wasn’t singing

Sunday, Aug 17, 2008, Page 8

So gullible is the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) when it comes to Beijing’s “promises” that party members are probably the only ones who still believe that the angelic voice heard during the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony belonged to the pig-tailed beauty on stage. It is one thing to believe in something, but quite another to obstinately “want” to believe — which is what the KMT has been doing since it entered talks with Beijing.

As he continues to portray his Chinese counterparts in cross-strait negotiations as honest brokers, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been whittling away at the nation’s sovereignty by dropping references to its official name. His rationale for doing so is that the emotional baggage of nationalism — as used by the former Democratic Progressive Party government — took us nowhere and should be substituted for “pragmatism,” which in his view would be more acceptable to Beijing and would increase Taiwan’s chances of being allowed to participate in international organizations. Gone, therefore, are references to “Taiwan” in the country’s applications to join world bodies, or the quest for full membership at the UN. The focus is now on “meaningful” participation, however ill-defined and dangerously flexible the term.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with “pragmatism” and “meaningful” participation, and on paper this approach may reflect an understanding by the Ma administration that seeking more at this point would be in vain, given Beijing’s obstruction and the international community’s refusal to grant Taiwan access to institutions that require statehood.

The problem, however, is that while Taiwan has been giving in to Beijing’s pressure on the name and sovereignty issue, all that the other side has done is take what it can, with no promise of reciprocity in sight. What this means is that for Ma’s change of course to be successful, Beijing will have to start delivering on its promises and allow Taiwan to make a space for itself on the international stage. As Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said last week, if, as it claims, China wants to win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese, it should stop obstructing Taiwan’s bids to join organizations. The coming months will show us whether the KMT’s affair with China is a case of unrequited love or a springing relationship in which both sides gain something.

In the end, however, this is all small fry, as without permanent official membership at international institutions, whatever Beijing “gives” Taiwan can just as readily be taken away. An institutional limbo is not a position Taipei wants to finds itself in, as its participation would continue to be held hostage by the vagaries of Chinese politics.

Even more fundamental is China’s refusal to disarm, or redirect, the 1,400 missiles or so it points at Taiwan — a clear indication that in Beijing decision-making circles, hard power continues to have more traction than the “soft” power of diplomacy.

The neighborhood bully may have promised to stop cornering the weakling, but the cudgel remains within his reach and the intention to use it is undiminished. If Ma’s so-called “win-win” approach to cross-strait talks is to have any meaning for Taiwan, the missile threat must go. Otherwise, Beijing’s promises will be as illusory as the red-clad little girl who charmed the world.

Listen to the voice

Pro-localization groups prepare for rally on Aug. 30

By Su Yung-Yao
Sunday, Aug 17, 2008, Page 3

A number of pro-localization groups including the Taiwan Society (台灣社) will jointly stage a parade on Aug. 30 to protest against President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) China-leaning policies.

The date of the protest was chosen to coincide with the Ma administration’s 100th day in office.

In addition to demanding a healthier economy and protection for Taiwan’s sovereignty, the parade will also demand that the government first obtain public consent through referendum on any major cross-strait agreements in the future, the groups said, adding that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) has also expressed the same view in the past.

The parade is slated to begin at 3pm on Aug. 30 with a grand finale in front of the Presidential Office.

A Central News Agency report, however, said that over one hundred people have backed out from the event after allegations surfaced about money-laundering by former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Thursday.

A Kaohsiung City Councilor and member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Cheng Kwang-fen (鄭光峰), said he had received lots of angry feedback from the grassroots party members. He expressed concerns that the four buses he scheduled to bring people to the event might not be filled to capacity.

Another DPP Kaohsiung City Councilor, Lee Wen-liang (李文良), also lamented yesterday over the sudden pull-out and feared that the party’s efforts to recruit permanent members — who are required to pay NT$10,000 in dues — will be tougher than ever.

While acknowledging that the recent scandal surrounding the former president’s alleged money laundering activities has impacted the morale of the pan-green camp, the Taiwan Society said the allegations against Chen and Ma’s problematic leadership are two separate issues.

The goal of the protest, the group said, is to shun the pro-China direction that the administration espouses.

If the public fails to stand up and safeguard Taiwan’s survival and sovereignty, the problem will only escalate, the group said.

DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is a confirmed participant of the rally and agreed to help mobilize the protesters. Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) will not attend the parade.

When asked by reporters yesterday whether he would attend the rally, Lee said he would not attend any “political activities.”

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih

Listen to the voice

Games an invitation to show off nationalism

By Wang Yu-Fong 王御風
Sunday, Aug 17, 2008, Page 8

‘With Taiwan still confused over its own national identity, what type of nationalism should it display

— Taiwanese or Chinese?’

THE QUESTION OF whether the Beijing Olympics can be compared to the 1936 Berlin Olympics has recently become a popular topic of conversation. Watching the opening ceremony, where renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou (張藝謀) mobilized a large number of performers to extol ancient Chinese culture, it was hard not to think of the well-known documentary Leni Riefenstahl made about the Berlin Olympics.

Certainly, anyone comparing the Beijing Olympics with the Berlin Olympics is not doing so out of good will to Beijing. After all, Hitler used the Berlin Olympics, where Germany grabbed the most gold medals, to furbish the reputation of the Nazis before launching what developed into World War II. Those who loathe China have rushed to compare these two Olympic events, while those who support it have denounced such comparisons as meaningless.

Speaking of the Berlin Olympics, a competitor who is neither Taiwanese nor Chinese comes to mind — Sohn Kee-chung, the first Korean to win an Olympic gold at the Berlin Olympics marathon. Korea was then occupied by Japan, so Sohn represented Japan at the event. However, when the Japanese flag was raised at the awarding eremony, he hid the Japanese flag on his shirt with a laurel awarded as part of the ceremony. Sohn made it clear during an interview that Korea was his home country. This made him a Korean national hero, and he was the one who carried the Olympic torch at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

What does this Korean national hero have to do with Taiwan? I was born in the 1960s and Sohn’s story was included in elementary textbooks then. The story was introduced in Taiwan because the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government hoped that the Taiwanese, who had also been colonized by Japan, would emulate Sohn’s national consciousness and cast off the shadow of Japanese colonialism to become full and dignified Republic of China nationals.

This story appears rather embarrassing in the context of the Beijing Olympics. The national title, “Republic of China,” is all but invisible and Taiwanese athletes can only be “full and dignified” representatives of Zhonghua Taibei (中華台北, Chinese Taipei).

Some supporters of the old party-state regime have called on Taiwanese athletes to follow the example of Sohn by displaying Taiwan’s “real flag” if they win. It is ironic then to see top-ranking leaders of the KMT — the party that established the old party-state system — shaking hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and telling the Taiwanese public that Taiwan has the “home advantage” in Beijing. This makes one wonder which national flag the athletes should display when they win a medal.

The spirit of nationalism abounds in this type of sporting event, where countries compete with one another. But with Taiwan still confused over its own national identity, what type of nationalism should it display — Taiwanese or Chinese? This is the tragedy of Taiwan.

Wang Yu-fong is a director of the North Pingtung Community College.



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