Thursday, March 31, 2011

Which Hunting for the Missing 36,000?

PROCTOR: I never knew until tonight that the world is gone daft with this nonsense.
HALE: Nonsense! Mister, I have myself examined Tituba, Sarah Good, and numerous others that have confessed to dealing with the Devil. They have confessed it.
PROCTOR: And why not, if they must hang for denyin' it? There are them that will swear to anything before they'll hang; have you never thought of that?

The China Post reported on what looks an awful lot like another political prosecution. This one really stinks: the Control Yuan is claiming that 36,000 documents went missing during the DPP administration....
Lo's comment came one day after the Presidential Office pointed out that from 2000 to 2008, only 6.76 percent of total received official documents had been properly filed.

The recently-concluded two-year investigation found that during the eight years of Chen Shui-bian's presidency, 17 senior officials' offices had received a total of 38,924 documents, according to a statement released by the office on Tuesday night.

Officials who worked at the offices under Chen and are now under investigation reportedly include former Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), former presidential secretaries general Chen Che-nan (陳哲男), Yu Shyi-kun, (游錫堃), Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟), Chiu Yi-jen (邱義仁), Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Mark Chen (陳唐山), Ma Yung-chen (馬永成) and Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), among others.

These officials could have violated several laws, including the National Archives Act (國家檔案法), the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法) and the Decree Governing the Transfer of Documents of Civil Servants (公務人員交代條例), according to the Presidential Office.
Take careful note of the first paragraph I have excerpted there: this comes directly from the Presidential office.

The DPP pointed out its obvious electoral use -- coming a year before the Presidential and legislative elections, meaning that prominent DPP politicians will be "under investigation" during this critical period. Is that the reek of panic among people at the top of the KMT?

DPP officials point to the obvious political motivation. They also observed that many of the "missing files" may well be items that do not require filing, such as personal letters. Finally, a prominent official swept up in the investigation observed that only high officials are being pursued by the investigation -- the junior officials are not being looked at. Of course ranking officials don't fetch and return files themselves -- that is for peons. But the peons aren't being pursued. This whole thing stinks.

What it really means is this: for the next year prosecutors are able to, at will, enter the residences of DPP officials and search them, during a critical election year, and basically take whatever they want. Recall that a key "effect" of the assault on Chen Shui-bian was giving prosecutors a look at who was donating to the DPP.


ADDED: Taipei Times editorial notes:

After all, that it took the Presidential Office nearly three years to realize that a large bulk of official documents were missing speaks volumes on the Presidential Office’s efficiency — or lack thereof.

Add the fact that in April 2008, Chen set up a seven-member handover task force to take charge of the transfer of power procedures, assisting then--president-elect Ma’s team and answering all their queries and requests concerning information on national defense, cross-strait relations and foreign affairs, among others.

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! Delenda est, baby.


Daniel A. Mong said...

very interesting. Confusing title "Which" should read Witch. Saw the tweet, had to read the post to understand what it was about.

卵生水筆仔 said...

Thanks to sharing your news review! From Xmarks find your blog. It's quite interesting to read your perspective about Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Ah! This is the beginning of giving the public the "appearance of guilt".

If they were innocent, then why would they be investigated.

Total abuse of executive power.

Thomas said...

And yet, will Taiwanese really care about missing files? Corruption allegations against Chen and Co. seemed so damaging because the public was already sensitized to the harm that corruption can do and because Chen had billed himself as the clean guy when running in 2000. Nobody in the DPP has gone on record as being the one who would come in to office to clean up the files of the former administration. Meanwhile, scraps of paper, unless they contain something really really important, are perceived as worthless by most people. The question is this: How will this idea gain traction?

Anonymous said...

Of course it's not about missing files. That's irrelevant. It's about maintaining persistent doubt that DPP leaders are trustworthy. CSB did the KMT such a great favor; now all the KMT have to do is regularly sow the seeds of doubt.

One thing I'd be interested in knowing is how regularly the KMT plants these mines. I get the feeling they're not necessarily timed to elections, but at points when the public may start "forgetting."

Michael, does your archive of these shenanigans show a timing pattern?

Michael Turton said...

Anon, my read is that they occur because of (1) elections and (2) to divert attention from something the KMT is doing, and (3) to divert attention from something good happening in the DPP. The current primary?

Thomas said...

"It's about maintaining persistent doubt that DPP leaders are trustworthy."

In order for the public to get the impression that the DPP leaders are not trustworthy over this issue, the loss of files must be perceived as grave enough to cause a crisis of trust, no? The fact that the KMT is talking about missing files instead of something bigger than that indicates that they are grasping at straws.

The only time I have ever heard of missing files causing a ruckus is when the files actually contained something important, like several incidents in Hong Kong two years ago where USB drives containing thousands of medical files went missing from hospitals. Now I ask you, if the drives had contained standard hospital correspondence, such as widely-distributed memos and other internal communications, would anyone have cared? "Files" themselves are just paper or hard-drive space.

Anonymous said...

The KMT will use every tactic ethical and otherwise to win reelection and gain graft for their supporters. The only question is when is the DPP going to wake up and fight back?

@riceagain said...

What would be the benefit to the DPP from not archiving these docs? Do the KMT even know what docs are in question?

going to sleep angry tonight. grr.

Anonymous said...

Challenge to government:

Tell the public what exactly these missing documents are and why they're so important.