Prosecutors charged Liu, 64, last week with fraud in foreign labor contracting. Authorities alleged that Liu brought a housekeeper from the Philippines, took her passport, stole her wages, threatened her with deportation and kept her in virtual isolation in Liu’s Overland Park home.The paper cites a reporter from CTI, the pro-KMT station, as saying:
Though white-collar defendants usually ask for bond, Wirken said Liu opted to remain in jail because she hopes to have her case resolved in the time it would take to raise the bail money and make arrangements for her release.
Should Liu’s case remain open, Wirken said he likely would ask for a new bond hearing.
One issue that has entangled the case in recent days is the question of whether Liu has any kind of diplomatic immunity because of her work for the government of Taiwan, which the U.S. does not recognize as a sovereign state.
U.S. officials and the Taiwanese government disagree as to the immunity question, Wirken said, but he quickly took that question off the table.
“She doesn’t really have full diplomatic privileges,” Wirken said.
Though Wirken said he would be prepared to fully litigate that issue, he said a better resolution would be to dispose of the case quickly without going to that trouble.
An article Wednesday in the Taipei Times noted that officials there had backed away from a demand that Liu be released immediately, claiming full diplomatic immunity. Government officials there said that the scope of Liu’s immunity was unclear under a treaty they signed with the United States in the 1970s when Washington severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
“It takes away all the attention,” Zang said. “If the government is seen as weak and not offering support to its diplomats, the voters won’t like that.”I'm not sure I agree with this statement. Liu's behavior is not popular here. Portnoy, one of Taiwan's most well known bloggers, collected and translated a few typical statements at Global Voices a few days ago:
1. I guess in many people's minds, the US represents the global human rights standard. But until this moment, Taiwanese is yet to learn from the US legal system how to treat foreign labor correctly. This is an unbelievably absurd drama beyond description.There's more there, go and look. But overall the response in the media and on the net has been strongly in support of the US position. My own view is that if the government moves to protect Liu it could look as if the KMT were giving one of its own the usual insider privileges. Note also Comment 3 asks the question that everyone has ignored -- where is the missing money, the difference between what the maid is contracted for and what she is actually paid? Either it is in someone's pocket, or it never existed -- which means the accountants have to be in on this at some level, or perhaps there are multiple contracts, etc. The mind boggles.
2. According to overseas reports, Hsien-Hsien Liu, the director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, was accused of abusing labor and fraud by forcing her Philippine housekeeper to work overtime and paying her only 1/3 of her wage, and therefore was arrested by the FBI. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Chin-tien Yang admitted this case and expressed a solemn protest: Since what Liu did is nothing but following the tradition of Taiwanese employers, the US should respect it.
3. It is said that Liu's housekeeper was hired for official purposes, but since the contracted monthly wage is $US 1240, while the housekeeper got only $US 450, where is the missing $790? Liu can either choose to admit that she hired her privately or admit that she has committed corruption.
FocusTaiwan, the GIO organ, collected a set of editorials from local newspapers of all political stripes here. Note that all of them are critical of certain government actions and all affirm that the US would not have arrested her without good evidence. Entirely absent is any sense that "our" diplomats need to be protected, regardless. The staidly pro-KMT China Times offers the testimony of another consular official. Though her contract stipulated US $1200 a month....
Another senior consular official, who had worked at the Kansas City office for more than two years was quoted as confirming that he was told by Liu to pay the maid only US$220 every two weeks, plus told by Liu to pay the maid only US$220 every two weeks, plus US$70 for grocery purchases -- far below the contracted amount.This behavior was apparently known at the consulate in KC. The UDN piece offers a glimpse of the backstory office politics that may be driving some of the case against her. Apparently Taiwanese officials testified to the FBI without checking with their government first, or so foreign minister Yang claims....
While Yang accused the three of "acting unethically" by testifying against Liu, he also lamented that Liu "has been too harsh on her colleagues and has treated people too badly."It looks like Liu had no supporters at the office when the FBI came down. A lesson for all of us.
[Taiwan] 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.