Undying Perseverance

Supporters of former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian shout slogans during a night rally in Taipei November 22, 2008.  Around 1,000 supporters protested on Saturday against Chens arrest, which they called a political plot.  A probe into the ex-presidents suspected role in several money-related crimes will be finished by year end, possibly leading to an indictment, a special prosecutors spokesman said.  The banner reads Political prosecution, return my innocence, the judiciary is dead, the country mourns.

Supporters of former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian shout slogans during a night rally in Taipei November 22, 2008. Around 1,000 supporters protested on Saturday against Chen's arrest, which they called a political plot. A probe into the ex-president's suspected role in several money-related crimes will be finished by year end, possibly leading to an indictment, a special prosecutor's spokesman said. The banner reads "Political prosecution, return my innocence, the judiciary is dead, the country mourns".

History that’s almost too unbelievable to be true, almost as if it’s a story come-alive from a novel.  Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九) and the KMT party appear to find endless accusations, filing one after the other, against former President, Chen Shui-Bian (陳水扁).  As a prisoner, number 2630 with only one cell-mate, Chen’s faith is ever as strong, however feels as if there is no end in site.

Monday, January 19, public prosecutors filed two additional charges against Chen at a pretrial session for his case at the Taipei District Court.  What new charges could they be based on?  Nothing new apparently: additional counts of “extorting property and demanding forcibly through influence” and “profiteering in a non-authority status” in a bribery case surrounding a Lungtan land procurement deal in 2004.  But wait, doesn’t this sound familiar?  Doesn’t it sound like past KMT actions reported by the people, only to be hushed later through bribery and political intimidation?

Taiwans Richest, #19, Leslie Koo

Forbes.com: Taiwan's Richest, #19, Leslie Koo

Well, according to the prosecutors, Chen pushed for the government’s purchase of the land for the construction of a science park by taking advantage of his presidency, once after the First Lady, Wu Shu-Jen, accepted bribes from Taiwan Cement chairman, Leslie Koo, in TaoYuan County of northern Taiwan.  The estimated amount is stated to be NTD $300 million (USD $8.9 million) from bribes within the deal back in December, 2008.

In searching for past articles on KMT’s harassment, threats, acts of political intimidation and bribery reported by farmers, landowners and other citizens – somehow disappeared from search – just when it was available prior to January 2008.  I can remember one such article from etaiwannews.com, a local farmer in Central Taiwan reported to the local news how the KMT party came to ask him to voluntarily sign-over the land to the party.  When he refused, the visitors resulted to diplomatic actions, held the farmer at knife-point, it was an offer he could not refuse.  After reporting it to officials, the case never developed since he signed-over “voluntarily” to the KMT representatives…

Chen’s three lawyers described the pile of charges as “salt on his wound,” arguing that during his 17 years of service as a lawyer, had never seen such an addition of new charges to an indictment.

If such a thing were true, I could not die in peace,” Chen comments on the bribery accusations, in a court proceeding.

Chen Shui-Bian is seen Monday stepping-out of a detention centre in Taipei.

Chen Shui-Bian is seen Monday stepping-out of a detention centre in Taipei.

Chen Shui-bian pleads, “not guilty,” to the recent charges (receiving bribes in a land deal).  He appeared at a Taipei court for a pre-trial hearing on graft charges, which he believes to be politically motivated.  The 58-year-old Chen admits to his wife having transferred $20 million abroad without his knowledge  also well admitted to the case of submitting bogus expense forms, however the amount was strictly used for and labeled as “secret diplomatic missions“.

Quoting from a report by taipeitimes.com,

“Why did they need to add these two charges?  It is because they know that the initial charges were too weak to convict me,” Chen said.  “For the Lungtan case, I was actually trying to help boost the nation’s economy.  How can that be called corruption?”

“No [other defendants] have ever named me as bribe recipient and I don’t know why I was charged with taking bribes,” he told the court.

The session, heard by Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-Hsun (蔡守訓) and judges Hsu Chien-Hui (徐千惠) and Wu Ding-Ya (吳定亞), began at 9:30am (footnote by yours truly: court began at 9:-30 am today, simultaneous to the publication release of his book.)

The Beginning:

A man buys copies of former president Chen Shui-bian’s new book at a bookstore in Taipei yesterday next to a sign that carries the cover of the book.  (PHOTO courtesy of AFP, dated to Monday, January 19, 2009.)

A man buys copies of former president Chen Shui-bian’s new book at a bookstore in Taipei yesterday next to a sign that carries the cover of the book. (PHOTO courtesy of AFP, dated to Monday, January 19, 2009.)

One of the first cases to be charged against the former President is of him having stolen selected “top secret” files from the Presidential Office.  All files within the office are handed done from one president to the next, including those classified as official, confidential, top-secret, etc.  Removing any file or document is considered a federal offense.  It was believed that Chen had taken the reported files, as to protect Taiwan from Ma after his inauguration.  When brought into hearing, Chen defended that due to the confidentiality of the documents, they cannot be presented or discussed in court.

Category five did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Presidential Office.  Presidential Office Secretary-General Chan Chun-Po (詹春柏) remarked.  The Chen administration defended that the documents, pertaining to six diplomatic missions, were classified material under the protection of the “Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法)” and that prosecutors nor court should not be allowed to see them.  In following, they asked the Presidential Office to voluntarily declassify the documents so the trial may resume.  Chen’s office, on August 06, 2008, issued a statement calling Ma’s actions “illegal” and “unconstitutional.”

DPP Legislator, Gao Jyh-Peng (高志鵬), spoke in a press conference that Chen has been advised to file lawsuit against Ma, arguing that his decision would constitute an offense against national security.

He said the Council of Grand Justice’s Ruling No. 627 issued in June 2007: recognizes the president’s confidentiality privilege, and that given such a privilege, the president could determine whether a document should be kept confidential for national security or national interest concerns.

Since Chen’s approval in the permanent classification of the documents in reference to diplomatic secrets as confidential information, Ma would be violating the law and the Constitution by opening the documents, said Gao.

For now, the court date is set for February 24: if proven guilty, he may face a life sentence in prison.  13 others involved, includes: Chen’s wife, son, daughter-in-law and brother-in-law.  The prosecutors added to the attention that Chen’s son holds a Swiss bank-account with $22 million, believed to be a colletction of illegal proceeds.

“Everybody wants to struggle upstream, Chen writes, but sometimes a person must make sacrifices in return for a bigger reward and sometimes a person messes up not because the person is stupid, but because he is too intelligent.  “

this would be the chance to listen to his last defence." “]”]Publication of the 246-page Taiwans Cross coincided with Chens first court appearance since his appeal for bail was refused earlier this month.  For those who have long supported Chen, reading the book will convince them that their support is correct...  For those who have abandoned A-bian [Chens nickname], this would be the chance to listen to his last defence, wrote Lee Hung-Hsi (Chens mentor at Taiwan University law school).  During Mondays court appreance (January 19, 2009), Chen accused his successor, Ma of the KMT party, of conducting a witch-hunt against him.

Review and Criticism:

In the book, “Taiwan’s Cross,” (the cover depicts a photo of the former President in handcuffs with fists in the air, exclaiming, “POLITICAL PERSECUTION, GO TAIWAN,” Chen questions former premier Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) presidential campaign strategy and insinuates that he [Hsieh] should be held solely responsible for the political defeat in 2008’s presidential election.

Of the chapters and sections within the book, one chapter “Striving Upstream,” stands out.  Chen writes a rare display of emotions compared to his reserved, but passionate image, that it was unfair for him to shoulder the responsibility as a whole for the party’s defeat in 2008’s presidential election.

Hsieh plans to invest more to help the elderly, children and disadvantaged groups.  (Courtesy of Hsieh-Su campaign headquarters)
Hsieh plans to invest more to help the elderly, children and disadvantaged groups. (Courtesy of Hsieh-Su campaign headquarters)

“The Democratic Progressive Party’s biggest opponent does not lie on the outside, President Ma or the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT),” says Chen through the words of his book, “… But it lies on the inside.  The party is not united and everybody has his or her own axe to grind.”

On the debate of Hsieh’s political campaign, Chen speaks of Ma’s green card status appearing to have been the Hsieh campaign’s sole issue.  Along with which in early February of 2008, Hsieh accused Ma of adopting “double standards,” stating that Ma, together with his running mate Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), talks about loyalty and clemency on TV, but treats people indicted for graft like convicted felons.

Many a passer-by would stop to hear for a brief moment before continuing on their way.  In Taipei City, not all citizens nor students may be able to speak Taiwanese, let alone understand it, as appose to Central or Southern Taiwan.

It was just “one bad show dragging on for too long.”  Supporters remember all too clearly the campaign season at the time, recollecting how the campaign seem to mainly stress the issue of independence, attaining membership in the United Nations, and the opposition’s political errs – all in Taiwanese.  Though the show of strength in Taiwanese identity and union seems to be a strength, the lack of speaking on other issues, failed.

After Thoughts:

I would like to conclude this article in an after thought with a piece from taipeitimes.com, in 2004.

1988 to 2000)

Former President of Taiwan, Lee Tung-Hui (Presidentail rule: 1988 to 2000)

Lee Tung-Hui said that Taiwanese should use three core principles in defining their relationship with China: first that Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China are two separate countries which do not belong to each other; second, the confirmation of “Taiwan First,” i.e., thinking from a nationalist perspective centered on the interests of Taiwan; third, counting China as a hostile country until it renounces its military threats against Taiwan.

Much of the discussion of the need for a new constitution centered on the lack of clarity about who should actually govern in Taiwan’s semi-presidential system.

“Taiwan is a political system neither led by the president nor by the Cabinet. The president cannot dismiss the legislature when the legislature is running amok and vice versa,” Lee Hung-Hsi said.

He said it was necessary to draft a new constitution because it was impossible to amend the current one.

“To have the Constitution amended, regulations require that the amendment has to be proposed by at least one fourth of the legislators, at least three-fourths of the legislators have to be present at the session and at least three-fourths of the legislators present at the session must support the amendment.  But with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) dominating the legislature, any amendment is destined to fail.  So we can only resort to making a new constitution,” he said.

Lee Hung-Hsi pointed out that the current Constitution was written in 1946 and promulgated in 1947 in China.  It reflected the needs of China, and it had nothing to do with Taiwan.  Taiwan needed a constitution of its own, he said.

“Someone has even been saying amending the Constitution would cause chaos in the country, but even China has amended its Constitution in the past and we didn’t see Chinese people running amok after that,” he said.

According to Chen Po-Chih (陳博志), chairman of Taiwan Thinktank, the KMT was trying to preserve the current Constitution to enable it to hold on to power at some level.

Lee Tung-Hui is as well known for being a splitist, as an article (September 2003) would depict.  A believer of Taiwan Independence moved and molded the nation into individuality and encouraged the reintroduction of the long-lost Taiwanese identity.

“In regards to national identity, Lee supported the Taiwanese localization movement, which prioritized anything Taiwanese and opposed anything Chinese.  Lee believed that Chinese and Taiwanese identities were completely incompatible.”   –Harvard International Review (HIR), “Crafting the Taiwanese

Cast members of the film Ballistic Chang Hsiao-chuan (L) and Hu Ting-ting pose for photographers during a news conference in Taipei January 8, 2009.  As Taiwan ex-president Chen Shui-bian waits behind bars for a graft trial after losing an appeal for release, a film about his controversial election eve shooting will debut on the island this week.  The Hong Kong action movie Ballistic uses a fictional plot to revisit March 19, 2004, when incumbent Chen and his running mate Annette Lu were shot and slightly injured during a campaign rally in southern Taiwan.  They won the race a day later.

Cast members of the film "Ballistic" Chang Hsiao-chuan (L) and Hu Ting-ting pose for photographers during a news conference in Taipei January 8, 2009. As Taiwan ex-president Chen Shui-bian waits behind bars for a graft trial after losing an appeal for release, a film about his controversial election eve shooting will debut on the island this week. The Hong Kong action movie "Ballistic" uses a fictional plot to revisit March 19, 2004, when incumbent Chen and his running mate Annette Lu were shot and slightly injured during a campaign rally in southern Taiwan. They won the race a day later.

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~ by Lan on 2008 TueUTC2009-01-20T13:11:38+00:00. 15.

One Response to “Undying Perseverance”

  1. I had no idea that the D.P.P. had been around for so long, nor of all the dangers and tragedies it has faced. Politics in the U.S. can get nasty and vengeful, but as far as I know, it hasn’t included murder.

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