Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Prosecutors Bring Case Against DPP Politicians in Chiayi =UPDATED=

Keelung Harbor by night

I'd use a modifier like "unbelievable" or "incredible" but really, it's more like "predictable" -- in the wake of bribery accusations against powerful KMT politician Lin Yi-shih (here and here) prosecutors in Chiayi suddenly open a case against DPP politicians Chen Ming-wen and Helen Chang:
The Chiayi District Prosecutors’ Office said in a press statement that DPP Chiayi County Commissioner Helen Chang (張花冠) and DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), who is a former Chiayi county commissioner, as well as a number of county officials were summoned for questioning in the morning.

Former Council for Economic Planning and Development vice chairman Chang Ching-sen (張景森) and a contractor, Chun Lung Development Co (春龍開發公司) chairman Pan chung-hao (潘中豪), were also questioned.
The DPP observed:
Responding to the raids, DPP spokesperson Wang Min-sheng (王閔生) said that as the investigation into a corruption scandal involving former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世), which has threatened to engulf the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), was ongoing, the sudden raid at the Chiayi County Government could be an attempt by prosecutors to shift attention away from the KMT administration.
Shocking, eh? According to reports, bail for Chang was set at $3 million, for Chen at $1 million, and for the businessman who allegedly bribed them, $150,000. The two politicians were released this morning. According to the China Post, prosecutors raided 51 locations....
Former Chiayi County Magistrate Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) and current Chiayi County Magistrate Helen Chang (張花冠) are among local officials suspected of accepting bribes of up to tens of millions in New Taiwan dollars between 2003 and 2006.

Pan Chung-hau (潘中豪) allegedly distributed the bribes in order to secure a bid on the Chiayi Vanilla and Herbal Medicine Biotechnology Park (香草藥草生物科技園區), which is now the Dapumei Precision Machinery Innovation Technology Park (大埔美精機園區).

Construction on the park began in 2006. The project was managed in the build-operate-transfer (BOT) system, which means that the private company has since received concessions from the government to build, run and maintain the park. The government's startup investment in the park was NT$1.5 billion.
So this case is now at least six years old; the old case against Chen actually referred to events that took place after this one. Note that in the previous case against Chen Ming-wen, prosecutors asked that he be detained incommunicado, a request denied by the judge. The prosecutors then appealed this and won.

Chen Ming-wen, who a few years ago was rated one of the best public officials on the island, has been targeted before.....Taiwan News said at the time:
In the case of DPP Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen, who is rated as one of the best mayors in Taiwan, the Chiayi District Court decided Tuesday to reverse its previous decision and order Chen's detention incommunicado under suspicion of "seeking illegal gains" by divulging information on a public contract for a sewage system to a particular company in May 2007.

After a year and a half long investigation, prosecutors have been unable to provide an estimate of the alleged "illegal profits" that Chen was supposed to have gained or show how Chen could meaningfully "collude" with other defendants to alter county government documents.

The court's decision to accept these flawed arguments and give prosecutors up to four months to sweat a confession out of the DPP mayor is sufficient to lead observers to worry that judicial standards in Taiwan have gone back two decades or more in time.
What a crazy coincidence, opening up a new case against Chen Ming-wen even as powerful KMT politicians are in the midst of a bribery probe. Recall also that Chen is often seen as a rising politician of the second tier behind heavyweights like Su and Tsai Ing-wen. Is this a way to cut off the sapling before it grows into a tree?

UPDATE: I've just heard that special investigators are at NTU questioning professors who were involved in providing reports and evaluations for the bid process.
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M said...

Chen Ming-wen is an old style KMT factional politician, he only joined the DPP so he could defeat a rival faction in Chiayi. I doubt he suddenly changed his way of doing business just because he joined the DPP.

Michael Turton said...

Yes, it's all a coincidence.

M said...

Chen Ming-wen is no different from any of the local factional KMT politicians with gangster connections. Sure he might be popular locally, but then so are Yen Ching-biao and Fu Kun-chi. If he is really seen as the next generation of DPP leaders, then the future doesn't look to hopeful for the party.

Readin said...

Singapore-style democracy, anyone?

Ben Goren said...

Am i getting de ja vu?: