Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Spreading Stain of the Lin Scandal

An employee of a Vietnamese diner in Dongshih counts soups on their way to a local factory.

The bribery scandal involving KMT politician and (former) Executive Yuan Sec-Gen Lin Yi-shih is selling newspapers around the island and giving the talk shows plenty to discuss. Lots of fallout....

For K-town: in the previous post on this mess I rounded some news about how this will impact the KMT's prospects in Kaoshiung. The pro-KMT United Daily News (UDN) has a detailed presentation of the issues that shines a spotlight on how local politics works in Taiwan:
The KMT political factions in Kaohsiung City include the military group, the Red faction and the White faction. Lin Yi-shih belongs to the Red faction. The Red faction has controlled the irrigation associations in Kaohsiung for a long time, but is not in control of most of the rural townships, suburban townships, or the farmers’ associations. The White faction fares better than the Red faction in controlling farmers’ associations in Kaohsiung and also better in controlling the rural townships and suburban townships.

Originally KMT political maneuvering depended on political factions in the old Kaohsiung County (new merged with Kaohsiung City). However, as a result of Lin Yi-shih’s involvement in corruption, the KMT party central must draw a line with the Red faction. Those high-ranking party officials who used to support the Red faction would possibly stay away from political factions in Kaohsiung City, which is not good for the future development of the White faction, either.

From former Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh and former Kaohisung County Executive Yang Chiu-hsing to incumbent Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu, the DPP’s main strategy is to take advantage of being Kaohsiung City Mayor and County Executive to fight against the KMT’s party strength. This year, the fact that Lin Yi-shih was defeated by DPP legislator nominee Chiu Chih-wei in the legislative elections reflected a phenomenon that the KMT supported Lin, but local factions stayed on the sidelines, resulting in KMT’s defeat in the legislative election.

The DPP has ruled Kaohsiung City and County for nearly a dozen years or so, causing the KMT’s political factions to fade in Kaohsiung City. Many influential political families have withdrawn from politics in Kaohsiung City, and some of the local hometown associations of former residents from other cities and counties are tilting forward the DPP.
Note that UDN points to KMT control of the irrigation associations as an important component of its southern power base. The South is not solidly pro-DPP but is rather a blue-green checkerboard, with KMT politicians in positions of local authority and able to hand on lucrative public expenditure contracts to their faction members and supporters all over the south.

This incident also shows the effect of the upgrade of the entire county + city to a single municipality. Prior to that the KMT factions in the city had done a good job of contesting the mayoral and city council elections, and the city was split fairly evenly. The hinterland tends to be more pro-DPP in the major elections. Thus, marrying the hinterland to the city may well result in an increase in the DPP ability to win Kaohsiung's council and mayor positions. In the long run, with the DPP able to control lucrative public construction contracts locally and reward its supporters, KMT power even in the local associations will fade, as UDN describes.

The scandal is threatening to widen because of an incriminating tape, released by Next Media, as the pro-Taiwan Taipei Times reported:
In a transcript of a tape released by Next Magazine yesterday — which was also played by several news channels — Lin allegedly asked a businessman for a bribe, saying: “There are a number of weiyuan (委員) whom I have to deal with.”

Based on the conversations, the SID said that although Lin has denied having any accomplices, it now suspects there were others involved in the bribery scandal. It is expected to launch additional raids and interrogations in the next few days.

Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥), head of Ti Yung Co (地勇選礦公司), a metal-recycling company, has accused Lin of accepting a bribe of NT$63 million (US$2.15 million) to help him secure procurement contracts from China Steel Corp (CSC, 中油) and two of its subsidiaries in 2010, and of asking for a further NT$83 million this year.


Prosecutors in charge of the case said the key evidence that convinced them that the charges could be true were two recordings of Lin allegedly negotiating with Chen about bribes on Feb. 25 and March 10 this year. Chen handed the tapes over to prosecutors after his company allegedly failed to renew its slag treatment contract with CSC because he refused Lin’s request for a bribe, according to prosecutors. In the recording of a conversation between Chen and Lin on March 10 this year, the voice of Lin’s wife, Peng Ai-chia (彭愛佳), was heard, asking: “Do you want tea?” as Lin and Chen were talking about the bribe at Lin’s residence in Greater Kaohsiung.
The reference to 委員 was taken by local readers and listeners to mean legislators. These remarks caused a firestorm on the talk show circuit, with rumors flying that legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng, the dapper don of the KMT, was somehow involved (had Lin won the legislative election in K-town he would have been vice-speaker under Wang). Wang's involvement was mentioned in the Next Magazine piece, according to the TT:
Next Magazine reported yesterday that Ma failed to distance himself from the case at the very beginning because he believed Lin when he told him that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who also hails from Greater Kaohsiung, had fabricated the story to tarnish the Ma administration.
Wang and Lin supporters were hurling insults and abuse on the talk shows this week. Wang is said to be a longtime rival of Ma within the KMT, and many Deep Greens out there appear to harbor fantasies that Wang is a deeply closeted Green. Sorry to disappoint, but the real agenda of Wang Jin-pyng is, as far as this writer can see, furthering the advancement of Wang Jin-pyng. What's interesting is that people found it credible that Ma believed Wang made up the story to tarnish his own party. The purpose of that would be....? According to local media reports, the Minister of the Interior warned Ma that investigators had tapes of Lin, and Ma was thus able to distance himself from Lin.

A number of pan-Green outlets ran an interesting commentary yesterday from Jin Heng-wei that described some of the more questionable aspects of the case. Entitled 還好,陳啟祥沒有被特務掉! or something like Luckily, Chen didn't receive special handling -- his case wasn't deep sixed by the prosecutors, although alternatively the author appears to be implying that Chen could have been killed. In the commentary, he writes:
He says that four days elapsed between Chen's confession to the bribery and the investigators moving on it.   "Four days are sufficient for Lin Yi-shih to get rid of every bit of evidence," he observes. Finally, the writer asks:
essentially: if this affair hadn't first exploded in the media, would (the case of) Chen Chi-hsiang have simply been quietly made to disappear?

Hopefully the media and investigators will keep digging. Meanwhile, anyone want to bet against Lin Yi-shih fleeing to China at the first opportunity? What? No takers?

Hey, anyone out there know where Lo Fu-chu is?
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.


Anonymous said...

So many comfortable hotels to hide out in. Which one to choose.

green sleeeves said...

It's strange that Lin's mother brought NT dollars while most of the bribe money was allegedly in the US dollars. Was it a smokescreen , a negotiation tactic (with KMT upper management) or anything else? Kinda funny that Lin's mother's action gives "money laundering" a brand new definition!

While this scandal dinged KMT, it's obvious Ma's core group has built a solid firewall and cut back their loss. I wouldn't count on this scandal as any turning point of Taiwan's politics.

DPP didn't expose the wrongdoing (the vicim chose to tell Next Media, not any DPP officials), they only reacted to the fact. While KMT is still very good at digging the dirt of DPP be it factual or not.

Unless DPP redeems herself's reputation, DPP didn't score in this one, esp if DPP and KMT are still perceived as "equally corrupted" .

Also, I fear that KMT would facilitate the illusion that : Taiwanese are corrupted (CSB, Lin) while Chinese immigrants are not.

The blue talkheads will do their best to bring back CSB's overseas account to divert the attention away from KMT/Lin. Too bad Chen's son would voluntarily create opportunities for them by his FB posting!

philippe mckay said...

This scandal is opening a big can of worms.I wonder if Ma thinks he relied too much on Wu.

I wonder if King Pu-tsung 金溥聰 will offer insight into this. This guy was a powerful KMT whip.

I really like what you offered in relation to the inner workings of KMT life in Kaohsiung.