Thursday, June 30, 2011

BREAKING: Prosecutors Go After Lee Teng-hui =UPDATED=

PLEA: All you academics on email lists discussing this -- it's time to stop discussing. The next open letter that comes around needs to have YOUR signature on it.

Back to the news...

Prosecutors announce that they will attempt to take out Lee Teng-hui for the crime of shepherding in Taiwan's democracy embezzling state funds.....AP reports
Former President Lee Teng-hui, one of the towering figures of modern Taiwanese politics, was indicted Thursday on charges of embezzling from a state fund, becoming the island's second ex-leader to run afoul of the judiciary.

Prosecutor Chen Hong-ta said Lee and top aide Liu Tai-ying had been charged with embezzling $7.79 million from a secret diplomatic fund.

In a statement, prosecutors said Lee embezzled the money from a National Security Bureau fund to set up a think tank meant to serve his private office after he left political life.

"Lee Teng-hui pocketed $7.79 million for his own personal use through money-laundering," the statement said. "In order to set up the Taiwan Research Institute, he consulted with his advisers and decided to get the money from a National Security Bureau project fund."

Prosecutors began looking into the case after Lee stepped down in 2000, and three years later charged the NSB's chief accountant with corruption. Those charges were eventually dropped for lack of evidence.

Lee has repeatedly denied embezzling any NSB funds. His office had no immediate comment Thursday but said his lawyers would hold a news conference later in the day.
The strategy once again gives every appearance of being to smear the DPP's leaders with corruption charges to tarnish their legacy and reduce their influence. Smart. This will also enable a steady flow of negative news about the pro-democracy side during the upcoming election period. Lee must know where a lot of skeletons are in KMT closets, though.

Anyone remember the case of the missing documents?

Question on a listserv when this was posted: Who's next?

Whatever happens, this is likely to further exacerbate the split between the pro-China and pro-Taiwan sides in Taiwan politics and presages a brutal, bitter election season.

ADDED: A friend reminds that Tsai Ing-wen served on the National Security Council under Lee. She is likely the target by-proxy here. This will be accompanied by the usual nonsense accusations from the attack dogs of the other party.

ADDED: Another smart friend posits that the idea is to smear Tsai with dirty money allegations -- saying she was in on the establishment of the think tank that Lee allegedly embezzled the money for. This will harm her with people who like her clean image and reinforce the view that the KMT and DPP are the same anyway.

ADDED: Another friend points out that this may well be an attempt to rally the base.

LINKS: FocusTaiwan has some details of alleged money flows, etc.  BBC's report. WSJ's report is the best of the bunch by far.

MEDIA NOTE: AP writes:
Chen Shui-bian, who ended the Nationalists' 50-year monopoly on power when he succeeded Lee, is currently serving a 17-year jail term after being convicted on wide-ranging corruption charges.
Chen was not "convicted on wide-ranging corruption charges. He was cleared of embezzling state special funds (prosecutors lost that in court and then again twice on appeal) and so far has been convicted only of accepting bribes from the Koo clan -- a longtime KMT-connected family -- and in the Diana Chen case. Wouldn't it have been great if we lived in the alternate universe where AP reported that Chen had already been found innocent of the charges Lee is under indictment for? Instead we get served the formula "Ma the tension reducer and Chen the China provoker." Sad.

Note that the AP report does not locate the Lee indictment in the larger context of several other suspicious indictments of major opposition figures, actions that provoked international protest -- wouldn't it have been better to put that there instead of tired formulas about Ma and Chen? -- nor did it point out that the indictment comes as election looms -- the political context is entirely lacking.

Thanks for leaving out all that stuff, AP. When you do that, you force people to go read blogs to find out what's really going on.

ADDED: Some good comments below
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25 comments:

justrecently said...

According to the BBC's Chinese-language website, the SID asks for an appropriate punishment, given Lee's advanced age and the contributions he had made to the country.

I'm not so sure that the time of the indictment comes handy for the KMT - after all, they are aware of the skeletions, and Lee's inside KMT knowledge.

Michael Turton said...

Since the DPP-KMT agreement on the lesser mortals, only the President can be indicted for special funds misuse. Perhaps they picked him because he was the only target left.

Anonymous said...

By condemning Lee Teng-hiu they distance themselves from everything Taiwanese liked about the KMT and move closer to an authoritarian center. Maybe that's the new plan.

M said...

Lee Teng-hui has never been a DPP leader. He had a very fractious relationship with A-bian.
Liu Tai-ying was first prosecuted and convicted for financial malpractice during Chen's presidency.

Okami said...

Interesting, though I can't see the use of going after someone so old. I'm sure he could turn it around and really get the KMT back for it. I think they're betting on his dementia due to age and as an act to warn any party members that do get out of line that this can happen to you at any time.

MT, AP and AFP are horrible places for news and should always be treated with skepticism. More than likely a KMT linked NGO just gave them the piece already written. It's to the point that I feel as an American, I'm better served going to blogs and 3 of the UK papers(Telegraph, Daily Mail, and the Guardian) if I want to know what's going on. Thankfully the WSJ has some good editorials.

Raj said...

I think that this was a bad move, even from a political POV. It smacks of desperation, and if/when the KMT try to tie this to Tsai I think it will put off more people who might vote KMT than will be converted.

James said...

I have to say this is pretty damn shameful dragging this shit up now.

Thomas said...

My first thought was that Lee is a dangerous choice for a smear. Aside from the skeletons issue, Lee has two other things on his side. 1) He is still well-liked by both greens and many light blues (Chen was not liked by as many so was a safer target) 2) Lee is old. If I were Lee Teng-Hui, and really pissed off, and knew that my political career and job prospects were not at stake in light of my advanced age, I would be sending out messages to many former insiders within the KMT that I would not allow myself to be swept away quietly.

Anonymous said...

WTF!!

Lee is highly unpopular with the Waishengren, who, no longer make up the bulk of the KMT voter base.

Lee was, and still is, exceedingly popular among the old "patronage" KMT voters; The local Taiwanese and the voting blocks of farmers and fishermen in the counties.

Is the KMT insane or are they playing to a different audience who hates Lee?

Waltzin' Jaloma said...

I would concur with justrecently in rejoicing that the pro-KMTeesecutors might have gone just an indictment too far.

At this juncture, give the upright 閣下 his day in court. When he unloads, the crap won't just fly in the face of those minkuk mongrels. It will bring the whole bunkhouse down on them.

The more I observe Mr. Ma, the more aware I am of the impact a laid-back Cher had on our still callow Chinazillette during the years he squandered at Harvard. Mr. Ma seems to have already been on a first name basis with his idol. She dedicated a whole show to him, down to a friendly warning.url. Watch it till the end. In hindsight, the depth of her foresight and mind-reading is… Ma Ying-ed-boggling, jeou-dropping.

Meanwhile, more on moronic clowns Mr. Ma’s academic stunts contributed to motivating and who have again, yesterday, attempted to raise smoke on the water.url near the Senkakus.

In case the intended links failed:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0BOOwMN8mM&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&feature=related&hl=iw&v=q1zFfalbjUM

Anonymous said...

The investigation of Lee was started by Chen, not Ma. The only sane reason for Ma to want to see this happen now is it might, however unlikely, implicate Tsai, then a professor and an adviser to Lee.

Michael Turton said...

The investigation began in the Taipei Prosecutors office. In 2003. Who was mayor then?

Thoth Harris said...

It was Ma Ying-jeou who was mayor in 2003. Chen was Mayor in the 90's.
I agree with Anon 7:56 P.M. he/she states that the KMT might be playing to the audience who hates Lee. But how many people even care?


Now, the KMT just seems like a party with a lot of nasty vendettas, and not much to show besides ECFA (whose benefits and drawbacks we'll have to wait-and-see on), and Typhoon Morakot. With the latter...we all know how that went!

M said...

The investigation began in the Taipei Prosecutors office. In 2003. Who was mayor then?

The Taipei Prosecutors Office is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. It has nothing to do with the Taipei City government.

Readin said...

This public service announcement is brought to you by the KMT judiciary: Warning: If you are elected president and work against the KMT, we will get you. It may be today, it may be tomorrow, but we will get you eventually. Opposition may work in the short term, but sooner or later you will pay for it with your freedom. So instead of fighting a losing battle, go home and spend time with your family. Isn't that better than having your life wrecked?

Remember the comment made by a KMT official about moving the benefits of Singapore style democracy? This looks like a solid step in that direction.

The questions about why bother going after Lee when he is old or when he might know about skeletons can be explained by seeing this as a move with long-term rather than short-term goals. In the short term it may cost, but in the long term the precedent is being set and the message being delivered that the KMT will always get their target.

Since delivering that message is critical, and there are the disadvantages mentioned, perhaps the KMT waited this long because of those disadvantages and because they figured an older and weaker Lee would be easier to take down. And they couldn't wait longer because they might lose the upcoming election or he might pass on.

Macca said...

Taiwan-born Lee and Chen were the only presidents left out of the Ministry of Defence's celebratory booklet.
Now the only two presidents to be indicted.

It could just be that Taiwanese people are naturally incompetent leaders of the military and are corrupt to their very core.....or we could be witnessing a good old-fashioned witch hunt.

Anonymous said...

The investigation began in the Taipei Prosecutors office. In 2003. Who was mayor then?

According to the WSJ article you linked, the investigation began in 2002 under the Supreme Prosecutors Office. Who was president then would be a better rhetorical question to ask.

Michael Turton said...

I'm not so sure that the time of the indictment comes handy for the KMT - after all, they are aware of the skeletions, and Lee's inside KMT knowledge.

On thursday UDN had an eight page spread. The same day the indictments were handed down -- obviously they had advance knowledge. Chiu yi was on the TV in the evening blathering about Tsai Ing-wen and LTH.

So, clearly, they think it does help them.

Now whether it will backfire will be interesting to see. Lee is nowhere near as unpopular as Chen was.

SY said...

>>... the Supreme Prosecutors Office. Who was president then would be a better rhetorical question to ask.


If you believed that, as the president, Chen Shui-Bian could direct the (mainland-Chinese dominated; thus, KMT-loyal) Supreme Prosecutors Office, I'd say, you are being naive.

Chen, as a president, was living in the mouth of the tigre (i.e. the mainland-Chinese gang); while Lee Teng-Hui, as he himself has once confessed to a Japanese author, was one living "under the mouth of the tigre" ("虎口下的總統" .) The little bit of advantage that Lee had over Chen was that he was the Chairman of KMT while he was the president.

-----

My view is that the persecution of Lee appears to be a showdown between Japanese Kendo and Chinese Sun-Tzu Warfare Art. The former being represented by Lee while the latter by CPP, proxied by the Ma Gang.

My personal opinion is that the Chinese will win. Lee's Kendo has once humiliated the Sun-Tzu Masters in Beijing, this is payback time.

BTW, the next Sun-Tzu victim is likely to be the U.S. under the Obama administration, aka the Goldman Sucks gang.

SoCalExpat said...

Lee may know a lot of skeletons in the KMT's closet, but he also knows a lot skeletons in the DPP's closet. At this point, we don't know who Lee will try to drag down in order to save his own legacy. Lee was more than happy to throw his protege Chen Shui bian under the bus when it was expedient to do so.

Anonymous said...

"Lee was, and still is, exceedingly popular among the old "patronage" KMT voters; The local Taiwanese and the voting blocks of farmers and fishermen in the counties.

Is the KMT insane or are they playing to a different audience who hates Lee?"

A: most heavyily agricultural / fishing based districts in Taiwan vote Green. just check who's their local legislators. the KMT's main voter base are urban / industrialized regions. the only Agricultural based county that votes for blue pretty consistently is Miao Li, but that's more of a Hakka thing northern Hakkas are pretty strictly blue for a variety of reasons.

B: There is the off chance you know.. that Ma and the KMT do not ni fact run the judicary branch of the government , that it is in fact independent like it's suppose to be.

From a political calculation POV, the KMT would indeed be idiots if they can control prosecutors and decide that it was a great idea to go after Lee, who probably have enough secrets that he could screw them much more badly than whatever positive effect this have on the KMT.

Dixteel said...

Hmm...I think there is a big assumption here that Lee knows the secrets of KMT, but does he really? If we really think about it, those who hold the true power within KMT hate Lee's guts to the core, why would they let him know their dirts etc? A lot of them don't even treat him like the President or the chairman of KMT when he hold those positions. There is a possibility that this is a "circles within circle" situation of KMT. Plus I always have an impression that Lee, despite his shrewdness in a lot of matter, is a poor judge of others' personal character. Do you guys remember how he passionately supported Lien and Ma in elections a decade ago? It just looks like he was used by the KMT elites, especially Ma.

justrecently said...

On thursday UDN had an eight page spread. The same day the indictments were handed down -- obviously they had advance knowledge.

I have no doubt that most members of the judiciary are closer to a pan-blue, than to a pan-green paper, and they may have leaked inside information. Rather to UDN, than to the Liberty Times. And sure - one can read a big pan-blue plan into that, with the investigators taking orders from the KMT center - but that's no compelling conclusion.

When prosecutors want to have their way, they frequently try to condition the public in advance, in my country (Germany), too. Even in cases which relate to television celebrities, rather than to politicians.

Michael Turton said...

And sure - one can read a big pan-blue plan into that, with the investigators taking orders from the KMT center - but that's no compelling conclusion.

*sigh*

Waltzin' Jaloma said...

Would not have it been for that foretold indictment-induced gas, I assume that on a slow news week-end the opinion pages would have delved into Nakayama (中山)'s US passport issue. A lot of ink would have been spent in assessing the history of the allegiance-impaired KMT plutocracy from founder to latest litter of princelings.

You will remember how, last year, the minkuk mongrels did their best to kill the A.I.T.-sponsored "American Footprints" exposition.

The latest incursion into Japanese waters near the Senkakus having failed to impress, they needed something big. This judicial farce could be an attempts at a diversion intended to obfuscate from the public hints of a dire threat looming over that phalanx of US-passport-holding, Taiwan-raised dyed in the wool Chinazis who manipulate the Taiwan-rooted KMT.

Remove your worthless green sun-shades. Hints are available all over the place. Go to J. M. Cole's posts in his blog. Look up for my comments.

The heat is on. This time around, however, instead of the Formosan baby eels burrowing deeper into chunks of tofu, there will be resentful maggots wriggling out of the heating sweet-potato they were allowed to spoil too long.