Friday, June 11, 2010

Chen Shui-bian, wife, have sentence reduced

With the news this week of former President Chen Shui-bian found not guilty of embezzling diplomatic funds, everyone was looking to today's verdict in his appeal of his convictions in the corruption cases. Instead, as major news media reported, President Chen and his wife Wu Shu-jen had their life sentences reduced to 20 years each. The court also reduced fines for the couple from NT$200 million (about $5.2 million) to NT$170 million for Chen and from NT$300 million to NT$200 million for his wife. A friend of mine summed it up with a pithy analysis:
It keeps the name in the media, it validates their persecution of the first family, but allows them to save face internationally, with a lighter sentence, and it keeps the issue running through the next election cycle. It draws attention away from the KMT's own troubles with organizational corruption. It validates their lengthy detention of him.
The judge deferred his decision on their bail until next week. I'm seriously curious to see what choice they will make. If I were the KMT I'd let him out, so he can make trouble for the DPP and also to end the international criticism of Chen's obviously political detention. The KMT news service reported Chen's lawyers' arguments:
In addition, with regard to Chen Shui-bian’s detention, his attorneys yesterday afternoon filed a petition to the appellate court, stressing that the funds the Chen family deposited in several overseas banks had been transferred back to Taiwan and that Chen Shui-bian would not flee from justice. They argued that Chen Shui-bian should be released because the rulings of the courts of first and second instances had been handed down, and there was no reason to continue to detain Chen Shui-bian by citing the risk that Chen would collude with other witnesses or destroy evidence.
The political nature of Chen's detention is revealed by a simple fact: the judges made him the only individuals in Taiwan ever detained during appeal for the crimes he's accused of because he could collude with witnesses, destroy evidence, and was a flight risk. So they claimed. But his wife Wu Shu-jen remains out -- yet there is no reason that she could not do those things -- their cases are joined. Chen was detained purely to punish, no other reason.

On a hilarious note, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) continues to waste the public's time and money on the fantasy that Chen Shui-bian had himself shot in 2004 in order to get elected. Today they dragged the President in for questioning in the "case." Because of the questioning, he did not hear the decision in the appeal until this evening.
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Richard said...

I'm not sure how it is with the older generation or deep-greens/pan-greens in Taiwan, but the Taiwanese living in the U.S. that are part of this group are still sincerely sympathetic and perhaps even "loyal" to CSB. I'm afraid that if our older generation of Taiwanese (which includes my parents) cannot move beyond previous DPP politicians and their play on ethnic politics, Taiwan will not be able to move forward with the DPP in power.

At a recent local Taiwanese gathering in Seattle, a lot of older folks voiced their opinion that we need to rally around CSB and continue to support him. And that, when he is released, he should run for 2012 presidential elections. Indeed, I was quite a wake-up call in that Tsai Ing-wen still has a ways to go in transforming not only the party, but their supporters as well. Or perhaps its not in transforming the supporters, but helping bring in the next generation of DPP supporters (younger generation).

Anonymous said...

So, the KMT is becoming media savvy.

Will it be now that CSB will be released upon returning funds to Taiwan? So it seems. CSB will be let lose to muck up the elections, the KMT will look better and play their card to win more mayoral elections, with hopes of holding enough power to win the presidential election in 2012.

What I find hard to believe in this whole scenario, after watching the KMT for more than 3 decades, is that the KMT has suddenly become so PR savvy.

It smacks of PRC PR thought and method.

And, of course, everyone loses sight of the fact that CSB should be either proven guilty or totally exonerated.

In many ways, life goes on in Taiwan as it did in the days of the White Terror.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 3.05 - He was proven guilty. Not only was it proven, he admitted guilt long before the trial. (See Aug 14 2008 statement by Chen).

Michael Turton said...

Anon @7:12:

Chen admitted doing something against the law, but never said what. Tax evasion, most likely, or not reporting donations. But he has steadfastly maintained innocence on all charges of corruption and bribery.

So your assertion is doubly wrong. He wasn't "proven" anything, and he never admitted to guilt in the charges against him.


Anonymous said...

Michael - his statement of guilt was in response to the money laundering charges which is what he was found guilty of last Sept.

Anonymous said...

"In many ways, life goes on in Taiwan as it did in the days of the White Terror."

LOL! Now all anti-Ma posters here be prepared for a midnight knock on your door! HAHAHA!

Anonymous said...

He wasn't "proven" anything, and he never admitted to guilt in the charges against him."


Billy Clinton never admitted anythin either in his White House version of the 'Hehehe' case!

SY said...

Richard wrote:

"loyal" to CSB
= cannot move beyond previous DPP politicians
= play on ethnic politics

My response: What utter nonsense!

Truth is:

CSB's stand has always been very similar to that of Frank Hsieh's. They both have been promoting the concept of a Taiwan that includes all "five" ethnic groups (the fifth being the naturalized Taiwanese, which acually is not one ethnic group).

It was CSB's government that took particular interest in creating the ministerial level institutions for the Hakka and the Aborigine affairs as well as their respective publically funded TV stations (Hakka TV and TITV). No such privileges for the Holo group, to which Chen belongs.

The pro-independence clause of DPP's platform received its current version of more moderate tone from Chen.

Chen has always been a moderate politician. It was him who first took the "middle of the ground" line. Chen has been a force that has helped prevent the more radical pro-independence activists from becoming disruptive to Taiwan's democratization.

You should study what Chen has actually done since 1980 before you render your judgment.

Michael Turton said...

We're basically referring to the same thing -- Chen remains adamant that he has never been part of bribery and embezzlement. Money laundering of course, since he was evading taxes and shipping campaign funds not reported overseas.

Richard said...

Perhaps my wording was off. What I am saying is that there is a large pan-green base that continues to see 外省人 as different from them, and perhaps hold a grudge against. When you have supporters that still feel this way, they may unintentionally influence DPP politicians to "cater" to them, and thus alienate a good portion of Taiwanese who may have supported them otherwise.

As such, my "judgment" stands. Which is not really a judgment, it is simply an observation.

Anonymous said...

He still holds millions in several accounts. Why doesn't the fool just return the money as part of a deal? I assume his lawyers are working on that. The DPP really has problems and he's a really bad symbol for the party.

SY said...

Richard wrote:

"What I am saying is that there is a large pan-green base that continues to see 外省人 as different from them, and perhaps hold a grudge against."

This is totally contrary to what I've observed. The fact is rather the other way around. It is the mainlanders (wai-sheng-ren) who view the local Taiwanese as different from them; in fact, as low-class non-humans.

While being the mayor of Taipei city, Ma Ying-Jeou noted in a preface in a guide (in English) for foreign visitors to Taipei that the mainlanders in Taiwan would feel uncomfortable if foreigners were to address them as "Taiwanese". His past and current cabinets have been disproportionately dominated by mainlanders.

The case of Fan Lan Chin is a case in point. I heard the mainlanders refer to the Taiwanese derogatively as "Tai-ke" as far back as late 1970's. This is not a recent phenomenon.

The percentage of local Taiwanese voting for KMT is 50-50. The percentage of mainlanders voting for local Taiwanese is less than 10%; i.e. over 90% of mainlanders will only vote for a mainlander.

Facts speak louder than wishful thinking.

Your concern about DPP not getting a certain portion of supposedly otherwise-would-be-for-DPP votes may refelct the fact that DPP seldom gets more than 50% of votes. But, the root cause lies somewhere else. I suggest that you go to YouTube and search by the key words "Stanford Prison Experiment" for videos that may give you an idea as to how to explain the phenomenon.

The older Taiwanese that you were complaining about are the "Prisoner No. 416" who are not totally into the prison. The younger Taiwanese were born and raised in the prison. All phenomena of the prison are "the world" and "how it should be" to them. They look at the older Taiwanese as the unreasonable disrupters who won't go by "reason" (the reason of the prison, that is.)

I won't say no more. This is too complex a topic to dive deep here. Taiwan's fate and current situation is unique. It exists as a ghost-like non-entity. People living there for generations are bound to be affected majorly. They don't recognize it themselves, nor does the world as a whole. Prof. Philip Zimbardo should take Taiwan as a free treat and feast on it, without all the hassles of setting up an artificial prison. The bonus is that he gets subjects that were born and raised in the prison; subjects that he would never be able to find in an experimental prison.

Think about it: why you are beating up the prisoners (Taiwanese) for a false rason ("playing ethnic politics") and not the prison-guards (Wai-shen-ren) who have actually been playing the divide-and-conquer game to the prisoners (by holding the power/media/language to invent and define labels to set people apart from each other)?

Marc said...

...I heard the mainlanders refer to the Taiwanese derogatively (sic) as "Tai-ke" as far back as late 1970's...

I was under the impression that 台客 ("tai-ke") is not pejorative at all, but a term for a powerful social identity that emphasizes one's Taiwanese roots.

SY said...


1. "Tai-ke" (or "Tu-Tai-ke") has been used by the mainlanders among themselves to refer to the local Taiwanese pejoratively since their arrival. (Yes, I meant "pejoratively" in my previous post, thanks!) This had been so for over 40 years before it "came out" to the public in recent years. As said, I witnessed it in the 1970's.

2. After it came out, there was a concerted "Verharmlosung" by the mainlanders in the media. Certain Taiwanese in the "alternative" show business jumped in and tried to make a business out of re-assigning "positive" meaning to it as an attempt to "subvert" it. The result is what you are seeing now.

3. There was a major disagreement between those Taiwanese that wanted to re-assign "positive" meaning to "Tai-ke" and those that vehemently opposed it. I believe the disagreement remains unsettled. I know some Taiwanese who still perceive "Tai-ke" as the equivalent of "negro".

4. What I wrote above can be easily confirmed by a quick Google search (if you can read Chinese):

(1) This editorial of New Taiwan (Aug 25, 2005), written by a Taiwanese author, strongly condemned the term.

(2) This article provides a fair account of the history and the current status of the term "Tai-ke". It does mention that "Tai-ke" has been used since early 1950's and it was a pejorative term.