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Government engaged in political vendetta: Chen

‘LIKE IN THE OLD DAYS’: The former president said that he gave more than NT$340 million of his leftover campaign funds to the DPP, a figure confirmed by the party yesterday

By Ko Shu-Ling
Sunday, Aug 24, 2008, Page 1

In a statement late on Friday night, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) lashed out at the government for using his alleged money laundering scandal to engage in a political vendetta, saying they could not rely on political persecution to govern the country.

Chen said he had donated more than NT$340 million (US$10.8 million) to his party for the past two presidential elections and that all the money had come from campaign fundraising.

It may have been wrong for his wife to wire the remaining money overseas without his knowledge, but she meant well, Chen said, adding that the money would be used for international diplomacy and public affairs.

“The money is clean, it does not need to be laundered,” he said. “I will not avoid my responsibilities, but [the situation] is not how it has been portrayed by the media.”

Last Thursday, Chen apologized for failing to fully declare his campaign funds and for wiring a large sum overseas, while denying he had embezzled money from the government or had been involved in money laundering.

He said his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), had been in charge of the couple’s finances and that he knew nothing about the transfers. Chen’s office later said that more than US$20 million had been sent abroad.

Prosecutors have said they believe Wu used figureheads, including her husband, brother, son, daughter-in-law, daughter and son-in-law, to wire money overseas.

In the statement on Friday, Chen said that although Taiwan is a democracy governed by the rule of law, his family had been treated unjustly since 2000.

“It’s like in the old days, when a government official who made a mistake would not only be killed, but his entire clan as well,” he said. “The political persecution I get is like what happened during China’s Cultural Revolution. I hope if I fall, there will be 10 more who stand up, and that if those 10 fall, 100 more will take their place.”

Saying the problem was the result of politics, Chen said that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) considered his victory in the 2000 presidential election as a “theft” that deserved the most severe punishment. His re-election in 2004 upset more KMT supporters, Chen said, and they questioned the legitimacy of his presidency.

Chen said the KMT criticized him for being uncooperative in the inquest into the election-eve assassination attempt. Now that the KMT is back in power, nobody seems to care about the case anymore, he said.

Following the assassination attempt, the KMT found other excuses to persecute him, he said, adding that they had questioned his role in the MRT system in Kaohsiung, his son-in-law’s insider trading case and the transfer of management at the Sogo Department Store.

He was cleared of all charges, Chen said.

What followed was the “state affairs fund” scandal, he said. Drawing a parallel between the case with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) special allowance fund during Ma’s stint as Taipei mayor, Chen said he had evidence to prove his innocence.

The KMT was now capitalizing on his foreign account controversy and was engaged in a political vendetta, Chen said.

In response, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said yesterday that the public would make its own judgment on the former president’s behavior, without elaborating.

KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) urged Chen to present solid evidence to prove his innocence.

In a statement issued later yesterday, the Democratic Progressive Party said the party had received NT$340 million from Chen

It also said that the amount was from Chen’s leftover campaign funds.

In related news, former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) office rebutted in a statement yesterday claims by Chen that Lee had engaged in corruption.

In an interview with the Chinese-language China Times Weekly published on Aug. 11, Chen said that Lee had ordered the transfer of more than US$10 million to the Taiwan Research Institute from secret funds at his disposal.

Chen said he had done his best to protect Lee during his eight years in office.

Saying that the cases mentioned by Chen had been investigated and closed by the authorities, Lee’s office said the former president did not rule out taking legal action against Chen if the latter continued to make groundless accusations against him.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih, Rich Chang and staff writer



New Party urges Ma to heed ‘no use of force’

ISLAND OF PEACE: If the so-called ‘war-free zone’ proposal was workable, Taiwan would have declared itself a ‘neutral state’ a long time ago, a DPP legislator said

By Mo Yan-Chih
Sunday, Aug 24, 2008, Page 3

“It’s unnecessary to start a war.”— Robert Tsao, former chairman of United Microelectronics Corp


The New Party yesterday urged President Ma to abide by his promise of “no use of force” across the Taiwan Strait in order to present Taiwan as a peaceful nation.

The party, a small ally of the KMT, has defined itself as an elite party with a strong pro-unification stance since its establishment.

“We hope Taiwan would become a place of no war and an island of peace. President Ma Ying-jeou promised ‘no use of force’ between Taiwan and China, and he should act on his promise,” New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) said while addressing a ceremony marking the party’s formation at the Civil Service Development Institute in Taipei.

Ma proposed the “three noes” policy — no pursuit of unification, no Taiwanese independence and no use of force — during his visit to Japan last November as a moderate approach to relations with China.

Former United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) chairman Robert Tsao (曹興誠) announced yesterday the establishment of a foundation in order to promote a “cross-strait peaceful coexistence law” (兩岸和平共處法).

Tsao said the foundation would be established next month. He will serve as the chairman and begin promoting the law around university campuses.

“The law would help promote cross-strait peace. Taiwan can choose to be independent or to unify with China. It’s unnecessary to start a war,” he said.

Last November, Tsao presented the proposal in an ad he placed in four Chinese-language newspapers, urging the two presidential candidates — Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) — to cooperate and push for cross-strait “peaceful coexistence legislation” to “completely solve the cross-strait problem and end the political wrangling within the nation.”

Tsao said his law suggested that the Republic of China is sovereign, and whether or not the nation wants to unify with China should be determined by Taiwanese through a referendum.

Later yesterday, DPP legislators criticized the New Party’s proposal to build Taiwan into a “war-free zone” and an “island of peace,” saying it would amount to robbing Taiwan of its statehood.

DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said she believed that “peace is built on the ground with full preparation, not under conditions that see a country surrender its arms.”

The person who proposed the “war-free zone” is a “fool” with wishful thinking, she said. Lin blasted the proposal as an attempt to seek Taiwan’s “progressive unification” with China, and argued that unification is “against the will of most people in Taiwan.”

DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) said that no country in the world would voluntarily disband its air and marine forces. Besides, she added, China is not “totally friendly” toward Taiwan, as evidenced by Beijing’s reluctance to dismantle its missiles targeting Taiwan.

Yok’s proposal means surrendering Taiwan’s dignity as a country — in effect “denationalizing” Taiwan, said DPP Legislator Chang Hwa-kuan (張花冠). Chang described the proposal as “naive,” while Chiu said it was “ridiculous.”

DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) also criticized the suggestion, saying that the question of peace in the Strait is not up to Taiwan to decide, and noted that China has never stopped trying to squeeze Taiwan out of the international community.

If the so-called “war-free zone” proposal was workable, Taiwan would have declared itself a “neutral state” a long time ago, she said, adding that Yok’s remarks were “senseless.”



Justice, Taichung-style

While the Taiwanese judicial system is busy prosecuting the Chen family, justice as a lived reality on the streets of Taichung took a sad and predictable turn this week.

A foreigner, fired upon with a BB gun, accosted the assailant, who then shot him seven times, including three times in the face. The victim used the assailant’s gun case as protection and then, when close enough, hit the shooter with the case.

The assailant ran to his parked SUV, produced a 9mm hand pistol and pointed it at the victim. After questioning the authenticity of the weapon, the assailant pulled out the clip to prove that it was real, whereupon the victim grabbed the clip and threw it into the canal.

The angered assailant then threatened to shoot the foreigner with the remaining bullet. A nearby sausage vendor with a clear view of the incident refused to help or intervene.

When the police arrived, they did not carry out a full forensic search of the assailant’s vehicle and they passed around evidence without gloves, even permitting the assailant to handle it at times. They did not question the assailant’s girlfriend or the sausage vendor.

The foreigner did not have his statement taken for more than six hours. In the meantime, the assailant gave a statement and was allowed to fall asleep two tables away from the pistol and single bullet, lying unsecured.

Later in the morning, the assailant sued the victim for damage to his property (the illegal clip of ammunition) and insulting behavior.

The foreigner was asked to sign an admission that he was an active criminal involved in an assault. This was part of a form that would allow him to press charges against the assailant.

Paradoxically, the prosecutor for the case was more sympathetic than the legal counsel, who mainly acted as a translator in the courtroom.

In court, a judge repeated the charges. Despite a sense that a threat on his life was not being taken seriously, the foreigner chose to defend himself and argued his case well enough to be cleared of all charges.

The judge ordered the assailant to give the victim compensation, to be agreed by negotiation, but then — unbelievably — the legal counsel wanted to give the victim’s phone number to the assailant so that he could discuss compensation directly.

As a result of being shot on a quiet night in the center of Taichung, this foreigner also lost his job when his school’s administrators, supposedly fearful of gang-related retaliation, canceled his work permit. He may now have to leave Taiwan.

With Taichung again rated as Taiwan’s most crime-ridden city, its mayor’s pride in his accomplishments and his description of it as retaining “friendliness and warm-heartedness” seem out of sync and prematurely self-congratulatory.

We need to look beyond these rhetorical flourishes and diversionary sound bites and hold leaders to account for the grimy reality they tolerate, not the one that their spin would have us believe.

Baojhong, Yunlin County



PRC, Russia and double standards

By Jerome Keating
Sunday, Aug 24, 2008, Page 8

Russia recently shocked the world. With a swift show of military might it steamrolled into Georgia, grabbed key strategic locations and took aim at punishing what it considers an annoying democratic gnat at its doorstep.

The timing was perfect: Russia’s neighbor China, one that also cares little for democracy, was hosting the Olympics, a good distraction for all.

US President George W. Bush, the leader of the free world, was enjoying the Games. He gave a condemnatory speech and went back to enjoying the Olympics. The world remained shocked, but how shocked should it be?

Some took the occasion to express concern that this aggression would give China a precedent in regard to Taiwan.

Let me present a counter-argument. It has been the US State Department’s mishandling of the cross-strait issue that has set the precedent for the Georgian situation: It is caught in its own double standard.

So what gave Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin the confidence to give the orders to attack? What possible link could this have with China/Taiwan? What had Russia seen? Examine this scenario.

In a mystifying example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, the US has continued to treat China and Russia in totally different, inconsistent ways, politically, economically and academically.

What does academia have to do with this? Sadly, it is often from the halls of academia that so many of the “expert” advisers for US foreign policy are drawn.

US academics in Russian studies have always been able to separate culture from government. They appreciate art, architecture, writing, culture and so on but often condemn Russian authoritarian rule.

With China it is the opposite. US Sinologists have become so enamored with the so-called mystique of Chinese culture that they use this to make excuses for authoritarian rule.

Who has not heard this refrain: “See how far China has come in the last century”? Has a similar refrain about Russia ever been uttered?

As US Sinologists seek paid-up invitations to Chinese universities and government backing for their research, they go to great lengths to defend and explain how the country is being misunderstood.

You don’t find this pandering among Russian academics.

From another angle, one cannot find Russian Sinologists as enthralled with China as their US counterparts. No Russian Sinologists or advisers suffer from a debilitating awe of Chinese culture or tradition; they have a sounder base in reality.

In economics, Russia and China have a large workforce that can be exploited and utilized. Why then does the US approach China economically as a key part of its policy of engagement and growth?

True, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger started this ball rolling when Russia was seen to be a greater threat, but that is long past and glasnost came in its wake.

China has not had its glasnost, but the US pretends it has and has made China the factory of the world.

To gain a few more dollars, US corporations have been willing to accept poisoned toys and pet food from China. You would never find that kind of deal made with Russia.

The US approaches Russia in a confrontational way, but it engages and placates China. Why?

Consider how the US-led NATO has pushed itself far beyond Berlin and the former East Germany.

Russia is seen as a major threat; China on the other hand is eagerly accommodated even though it grows every year in military strength.

Enter the revealing case of Taiwan, a similarly annoying democratic gnat, but this time on the doorstep of China.

It is now more than 60 years since the end of World War II and Taiwan has created for itself a vibrant democracy. Ironically, while the US State Department openly celebrates Georgia’s democracy and its independence from Russia, it officially states that Taiwan’s status is “undetermined.” It won’t even touch on Taiwanese independence.

“Undetermined”: this is the answer you get when US state officials are pressed hard for comment.

More often than not, however, they mouth the mantra of “We have a one-China policy.” It is a policy whose actual meaning is understood by only a few.

In practice, the majority acquiesces to China’s interpretation of what “one China” means. The media all over the world are party to this acquiescence; few outlets have the integrity to challenge this utterance.

Bush has publicly met with Georgia’s president; Taiwan’s president is treated like a pariah. Taiwan’s democracy, like an unwanted stepchild, is pushed to the back of the line.

In its embarrassment, the US State Department wishes that Taiwan would shut up about its membership in the democratic global family because it hampers the US pipedream policy of engagement with China.

Perhaps this explains why the US State Department is enamored of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九): He cares little for his title of president, still less for Taiwan’s sovereignty.

How does this translate for Russia?

Taiwan’s democracy and independence are not a matter of principle for the US; Taiwan is a pawn, a bargaining chip that Washington has used in the game of Russian containment started by Kissinger and US president Richard Nixon.

Putin sees through this and is not afraid to challenge it. He senses that if the US will play an accommodating game with China, a lesser power than Russia, then it won’t confront Russia when the chips are down.

Authoritarianism is authoritarianism regardless of its cloak, but the US has been entirely inconsistent in acknowledging it — and Putin exposes this.

States have different strategies. Russia does not have the finesse and patience to master the long term duplicity of China; it does not need it, because Russia’s style is an overt Machiavellianism. It will first try extortion and blackmail; if these fail it resorts to ham-fisted action, as with Georgia.

The US State Department tries to condemn the authoritarian devil in Russia and dance with the same devil in China.

But Russia won’t let the US have it both ways. Bush should be well aware of that old Texas saying: “If you dance with the Devil, it’s not the Devil that changes.”

Putin may not be from Texas, but he knows this. And he knows that Bush is faking it.

And what of the US State Department? It has been dancing for so long with the Devil since the Shanghai Communique that it has lost track of its goal. Instead, it is playing an unprincipled game of convenience — and Russia has called its bluff.

This is not a plea that the US should be the world’s policeman, nor am I saying that war should be declared if a democracy is threatened.

What is needed is consistent policy. You can’t have the economic cake of China and eat it. Selective accommodation won’t work.

If a lesser power like China is accommodated, Russia knows it can demand the same.

Jerome Keating is a Taiwan-based writer.


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