Thursday, May 14, 2009

Taiwan News on most recent Chen Shui-bian detention

Taiwan News had a couple of excellent editorials this week, one on the fact that the island of Taiwan belongs to the people of Taiwan, the second on the judicial processes surrounding the Chen Shui-bian case, which appear to be a clear human rights violation:
Nevertheless, on Monday, Taipei District Court Judge Tsai Shou-hsun and two other judges accepted claims by Special Investigation Unit prosecutors that it is still necessary to keep ex-president locked in the Taipei Detention Center since he could flee Taiwan, collude with witnesses or damage evidence, even though all testimony and evidence gathering has been completed.

In an apparent exercise of "blaming the victim," the judges also declared that Chen's hunger strike and other actions to protest his "illegal detention" constituted "interference in the judicial process."

In fact, this decision actually provides further reason to suspect that the court is engaging in a politically motivated and punitive abuse of the controversial power of "preventative detention" and has no intention of respecting the hallowed legal principle of the assumption of innocence.

The SIU's claim that two more months of detention is "necessary" holds little water since prosecutors have already completed virtually all evidence gathering in the cases involving the ex-president and there is scant room for Chen to "collude with witnesses" or "destroy evidence" in a case that is now being tried and since Chen will be unable to escape the 24-hour "protection" of National Security Bureau agents.

Particularly noteworthy is the "coincidence" that SIU prosecutors rushed to file a new indictment against Chen and Wu last week claiming that they had accepted bribes from former Taipei 101 chairwoman Diane Chen and former Chinatrust Financial Holdings vice chairman Jeffrey Koo, Jr despite the protestations by both Chen and Koo that funds were indeed political contributions to the Democratic Progressive Party.

The timing of this indictment cannot but spark suspicion that the SIU intends to use an endless series of indictments to keep Chen detained indefinitely and thereby deny the ex-president any room for a fair defense.
I don't blog on the case much any more -- it's like coming downstairs in the morning to find the cat threw up on the rug, but you let it sit there all day because you just can't face cleaning it up. Nevertheless, it is clear that the State is obsessed with convicting Chen at any cost. His guilt or innocence is no longer a relevant issue, if it ever was. In a nation where the press was reliably balanced, this would be a grave problem for the Administration, but not in Taiwan, where the media largely serves the ruling party's interests. Chairman Tsai of the DPP noted:
Her visit to Chen, first-ever after Chen was held in custody, came after a court ruling earlier this week to detain Chen for extra two months until late July. “The decision is neither reasonable nor justifiable, but a highly politically-motivated one,” said Tsai.
We'll see what kind of blowback this and other actions by the government generate on May 17th....

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

Isn't it misleading to call the KMT the "ruling party"? Taiwan isn't a parliamentary system at all.

SY said...

Michael wrote: it's like coming downstairs in the morning to find the cat threw up on the rug, but you let it sit there all day because you just can't face cleaning it up.This reaction is understandable and I tend to feel the same way at times.

The punishment package that Chen Sui-Bian receives for going on hunger strike, I've learned, includes:

1. Confiscation of a hand-held mini TV set and a raido of earplug size until the end of hunger strike.

2. No exercise time (out of the confinement cell) until the end of hunger strike.

3. No visitors for one day (May 13)

4. A "訓誡" ("scorn of lecture") delivered by the detention center officials. (This "訓誡" thing is a concept I have yet to grasp.)

Without the radio and TV and not being allowed to contact other detainees, Chen is in semi solitary confinement. Nobody knows about his conditions except for the guards.

Note that solitary confinement itself is a very controversial form of punishmen and is only applied to extremely violant prisoners. Even an outright solitary confinement does allow for one hour of (out of cell) exercise time every 24 hours. One must note that Chen is neither a prisoner (he is a detainee) nor hurting anyone. He simply does not eat.

This evening (May 15, Friday) after the closure of visiting hours, the dentention center pro-actively came out to claim to the press that Chen has taken 400 cc of rice congee and "is now in good health". Nobody can confirm or deny the claim until Sunday (when the demo gets started) as there is no visting hours on Saturdays. Yet, this was meant to humiliate and discredit an ex-president who says that he is on hunger strike until May 17; possibly also an attempt to quash the spirit of the Taiwanese who are gearing up for Sunday's planned demo.

SY said...

One correction: The Taipei Detention Center does not have visiting hours both Saturdays and Sundays; not only Saturdays as I noted in my previous comment.

No outsider can confirm Chen's condition until Monday.

Anonymous said...

Seems pretty clear to me that the reason to treat CSB so is to keep him from speaking publicly and stirring up the TI crowds.

Despite his seeming fall from grace, he still has strong influence at the grassroots level.

In some ways, he's being treated a lot like Aung San Suu Kyi - perpetual incarceration and isolation, and trumped- up "charges" to justify this on a legal basis.

I think the KMT are rather afraid of Chen!

Bobby Commander said...

If you can't see that CSB has totally fooled and lied to the people, then you're drinking to much rice wine. He and his family are nothing but crooks. Do you really think they have all this money from his salary over tghe past 12 yrs or so? Please wake up you should be smarter than that.

Robert R. said...

No one said he's not guilty, but that doesn't make his treatment the least bit fair.

Bobby Commander said...

Then if it is agreed that CSB is guilty i do not understand all the uproar about whether or not he eats or has one hour of excercise. He is getting better treatment than most other prisoners and i haven't heard about anyone getting uptight about any other prisoner. Since i am not back in Taiwan as often as i would like, is there a blog where this case is discussed without being in either political camp? I must also say that i really appreciate this web site. The pictures are incredible just amazing. Thank you.