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Taipei Court detains ex-bureau head

CONSEQUENCES: The former head of the Ministry of Justice¡¦s Investigation Bureau could face a minimum of five years in jail, but he denied any wrongdoing in court

By Rich Chang

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2008, Page 1

The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered the detention of Yeh Sheng-mao (¸­²±­Z), former head of the Ministry of Justice¡¦s Investigation Bureau, for allegedly withholding information on former president Chen Shui-bian¡¦s (³¯¤ô«ó) possible involvement in money laundering.

Yeh stands accused of covering up for Chen and warning the former president that a foreign anti-money laundering organization was investigating alleged money-laundering by Chen¡¦s family.

Yeh was indicted on Aug. 28 on suspicion of concealing government documents containing a list of overseas bank accounts in the names of members of Chen¡¦s family and leaking national secrets. His lawyers have maintained he knew nothing about the alleged money laundering.

In yesterday¡¦s hearing the presiding judge said Yeh¡¦s behavior might have helped Chen profit illegally and therefore might have violated the Criminal Code.

The judge said because corruption is a serious crime with a minimum five-year sentence, the court had decided to detain Yeh, a decision that seemed to leave him shocked. He was taken to the Taipei Detention Center from the court after the hearing.

Yeh¡¦s trial at Taipei District Court was due to take place behind closed doors on Sept. 15 because it involved national security issues, but the court later decided the hearing would be open to the public.

Prosecutors said that Yeh was supposed to relay information that the bureau¡¦s Anti-Money Laundering Center obtained on Jan. 27 from the international anti-money laundering Egmont Group to the Supreme Prosecutors¡¦ Office, but that the office never received it.

Prosecutors also accused Yeh of failing to pass on information it had obtained about possible money-laundering by former first lady Wu Shu-jen (§d²Q¬Ã) to prosecutors in 2006.

When the judge asked Yeh whether he had handed over classified documents to Chen in order to keep his job, Yeh said no.

He told the court he had not broken the law by handing over any documents to Chen and had not concealed any official documents.

¡§As a criminal investigator and an intelligence chief, I had to hand over documents concerning intelligence information to the head of [the] nation, which is legal,¡¨ Yeh told the court.

Chen¡¦s office has said that the former president received two ¡§pieces of intelligence¡¨ from Yeh, but that they were not documents.


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Activists fighting to keep heart of Tucheng green

GOING TOO FAR: Environmentalists say Taipei County officials are seeking more land than they need for a development project to help construction firms profit

By Meggie Lu

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2008, Page 2

Environmentalists accused the Taipei County Government yesterday of conspiring with construction companies to ruin 163 hectares of primarily undeveloped land in the heart of Tucheng City (¤g«°).

Activists gathered in front of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) as an EPA committee prepared to discuss the environmental impact assessment for the Taipei County plans.

The county wants to develop the land for residences and a ¡§judiciary zone,¡¨ comprising a prison, a court and a district prosecutor¡¦s office. The area has remained undeveloped because of its proximity to the Tucheng Ammunition Warehouse (¤g«°¼uÃÄ®w), a site that used to be a military base before 2006 and was therefore blocked from development.

The county proposes relocating the Taipei Detention Center to the location of the old warehouse from its current site 2.2km away, saying that as Tucheng has grown, the prison is now too central.

As the EPA committee prepared to review the plans, environmentalists said the project would damage the land¡¦s biodiversity.

¡§Because of its military base status, the land around the former ammunition warehouse remained unspoiled and undeveloped for more than half a century. As such, the area is now home to more than 30 species of rare birds and more than 70 rare plant species, some of which are near extinction elsewhere on the island,¡¨ environmentalist Liu Li-lan (¼BÄRÄõ) said.

Liu comes from Tucheng and has lived there for more than 44 years.

¡§It is too obvious and I am not afraid to say it: The government would only need about 30 hectares for the ¡¥judiciary zone¡¦ they are building. Why would they seek all 163 hectares? They want to help construction companies [profit on] real estate,¡¨ she said.

With a number of government-subsidized eco-tourism farms in the area, this part of Tucheng is ¡§the only place in Greater Taipei you can get to by MRT to see fireflies. Schoolchildren from around here all come for outdoor and ecology lessons,¡¨ Liu said.

Furthermore, 33 of Tucheng¡¦s 47 borough chiefs oppose the development plan, she said, calling on the government to listen to the community.

¡§The area is one-sixth of the area of Tucheng. Even if the public could benefit financially from developing the city, we would still prefer that it is kept as green space,¡¨ Liu said. ¡§We are not against all development, we just oppose replacing green land with concrete. Instead, the government can help us develop organic farming, kitchen waste composting and eco-tourism.¡¨


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Chinese credentials being discussed: MOE

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2008, Page 3


Democratic Progressive Party legislators topple a line of oversized dominoes in front of the Legislative Yuan yesterday, symbolizing the possible negative effects of recognizing Chinese educational credentials and allowing Chinese students to enroll in Taiwanese universities.



Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (¾G·ç«°) said at the legislature yesterday that the schedule for the government¡¦s proposal to recognize Chinese educational credentials was still under discussion after many legislators questioned him about the issue.

As for the issue of allowing Chinese students to enroll in Taiwanese universities, Cheng said there would be a cap on the number of Chinese students allowed to enroll in domestic universities and that individual universities would also have a cap.

He said those universities interested in recruiting Chinese students should establish a committee to handle the matter while the ministry would establish the necessary regulations.


Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (³¯«F¦m) said that Cheng had mentioned that it would take about two to three years before Chinese diplomas could be recognized by the government.

Chen said he wondered why President Ma Ying-jeou (°¨­^¤E) said the proposal would be carried out next year.

In response, Cheng said that the ministry was still deliberating over the time schedule for the proposal but that it might be completed earlier than expected.

However, he said that the bonus point scheme would not apply to Chinese students who wished to come to Taiwan to study and that the ministry would not offer scholarships to them.

Meanwhile, Cheng said that if everything went as planned, it was expected that national and private universities would be allowed to open extension education programs in China in the next academic year to recruit Chinese students as well as the children of Taiwanese businesspeople based in China.


In response to questions by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Diane Lee (§õ¼y¦w) about how to verify Chinese educational credentials proposed, Cheng said that given the fact that there are numerous high schools in China, it would be hard for the government to verify them all.

Thus a student¡¦s academic performance, including national exams, would be used as the main criteria, Cheng said.

KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (¬x¨q¬W) said that some had suggested that Taiwanese businesspeople offer scholarships to encourage Chinese students to study in Taiwan as part of their core staffer recruitment program.

Hung said that the government should consider this proposal because Chinese students would become accustomed to Taiwanese ways of thinking and better understand Taiwanese culture after studying here.


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Beijing has SARS virus in its arsenal: NSB chief

BIOCHEMICAL WARFARE: Tsai Chao-ming said Taiwan and the UN had information that China has turned the virus into a bioweapon

By Rich Chang

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2008, Page 3

National Security Bureau (NSB) Director Tsai Chao-ming (½²´Â©ú) said yesterday that the SARS virus has become part of China¡¦s biochemical warfare program.

¡§We have information indicating that the SARS virus has become a biochemical warfare formula, and United Nations experts have the same intelligence as that obtained by the NSB,¡¨ he told the legislature¡¦s Foreign and National Defense Committee.

¡§We suspect that some places in China are involved and we will continue to monitor the situation and developments,¡¨ he said.

Tsai made the remarks in response to a question from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Twu Shiing-jer (Ò\¿ô­õ), who asked if the SARS virus had become a biochemical weapon.

Meanwhile, Tsai told DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (½²·×·ã) that the police would provide security for Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (³¯¶³ªL) during his visit to Taiwan, not the bureau¡¦s security detail.

Tsai Chao-ming said protests could be expected during Chen¡¦s visit but the bureau was confident that his safety could be ensured.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (§õ¼yµØ) asked Tsai Chao-ming if he supported President Ma Ying-jeou¡¦s (°¨­^¤E) decision to invite Chen to visit Taiwan.

Tsai Chao-ming said the decision was the government¡¦s to make and his bureau was willing to provide the necessary security.

Late last night the bureau issued a statement denying that Tsai had said Beijing turned the SARS virus into a weapon. The bureau said Tsai had been misunderstood.


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Taiwanese KTV for independence

By William Stimson
Tuesday, Oct 07, 2008, Page 8

¡¥Replace the People¡¦s Republic of China for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and Taiwan for Estonia¡X the story is the same: A giant country tries to gobble up a tiny one on its border.¡¦

Invited to Helsinki, Finland, to present my work on the dreams of university students in Taiwan, I took the ferry on Friday over to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to spend a day wandering around one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe.

Luckily, it turned out to be a rainy day ¡X otherwise I wouldn¡¦t have sought shelter in a seemingly uninteresting little museum on a narrow cobblestone street, where I stumbled upon an exhibit that brought tears to my eyes.

Replace the People¡¦s Republic of China for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and Taiwan for Estonia ¡X the story is the same: A giant country tries to gobble up a tiny one on its border.

Estonia has another element in common with Taiwan ¡X its people love to sing.

The museum was holding an exhibit that documented in pictures how the Estonians got the world to recognize them as a nation by singing, in what has been called ¡§the Singing Revolution.¡¨

The Russians sent in tanks.

The Estonians placed huge boulders on the roads to block the way.

The tanks had to withdraw because the little nation captured the heart of the world with its solidarity song.

Russia relinquished its claims. The Estonians toppled Lenin¡¦s statue.

One man climbed the pedestal and raised his arms in a gesture that expressed the feeling of a nation.

A photographer captured the moment for all time.

There is a big lesson in this for Taiwan.

But the question is: Can 23 million Taiwanese do what 1.5 million Estonians did?

And can they do it now while there is still time?

Do the Taiwanese have what it takes?

Do they deeply feel that Taiwan really is a separate nation?

Or do the people of Taiwan prefer to be swallowed up by China and digested into something that can have neither the significance nor the destiny that history has thrust upon this island nation?

Do Taiwanese parents care more about how much money they can grab today than they do for the future of their children tomorrow?

Are they that much like the late dictator Chiang Kai-shek (½±¤¶¥Û) and his family?

I raised these points because I feel now is the time in which answers must emerge; and because, standing there in that small, faraway museum, it struck me that the way the Estonians sang their nation to freedom is an option for Taiwan that could win it the sympathy of world organizations that it hasn¡¦t been able to obtain by any other method.

I work with the dreams of young Taiwanese college students.

I have seen inside their hearts and minds.

I know them to be world-class as a group, the equal of young people anywhere.

Though Taiwanese are perhaps not ethnically, linguistically or culturally separate from the mainland Chinese ¡X they are a larger people, even though smaller in number; and they aspire to a higher destiny, even though on a smaller scale.

The world needs Taiwan and Taiwan needs a world that can see this.

As I stood before the museum exhibit with tears in my eyes, an old Estonian man approached me.

¡§Where are you from?¡¨ he asked.

¡§Taiwan,¡¨ I said.

¡§Oh,¡¨ he immediately understood.

¡§You are like us. We have Russia. You have China. The same story,¡¨ he said.

The old man was right.

Perhaps political leaders in Taiwan have forgotten that they have a higher mission than lining their pockets with cash.

This little nation is right now being ensnared in wording and behaviors that bit by bit will cause it to be engulfed by its huge neighbor next door.

Our young people stand to lose their nationhood and their opportunity for freedom and self-expression unless we act now.

What better way than following the Estonian example and organizing mass singing events ¡X in English and Chinese ¡X that can enable Taiwan¡¦s young and old alike to come together and show the world they are a people unique among peoples, with a voice all their own.

If that voice can show it deserves to be heard, it will be heard.

The world organizations will listen. This doesn¡¦t need to be restricted to Taiwan.

Sizeable student and resident populations of Taiwanese all over the US, Europe and elsewhere can join in ¡X and carry the song of our people, and their dream of freedom and democracy, around the world.

If little Estonia, with only 1.5 million people could do it, why can¡¦t we, with over fourteen times the population?

The only possible reason would be that we don¡¦t care enough, and so don¡¦t deserve a destiny other than the one that the Chinese Communist Party allows us to have. The Chinese hands in our pockets will then be much bigger, more numerous and greedier.

William Stimson is a US writer based in Helsinki, Finland.


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