Saturday, April 15, 2006

Johnny Neihu on Cheng Chung-mo Set Up

In last Sunday's blog round-up I rounded up a post over at Wandering to Tamshui on the Cheng Chung-mo case, which included some good comments from Tim at Indiac. The case involved a Grand Justice who had to resign over some alleged hanky-panky at a local hotel. The whole thing stank of a set-up, as Tim pointed out. Jason introduced the case thusly:

For those of you suffering through Taiwan scandal withdrawal, your delivery is at hand: Judicial Yuan Vice President and Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mou (城仲模) has resigned from his posts this week amid reports of an illicit and poorly-explained affair with an assistant professor.

Making a rare foray into trash journalism, the Apple Daily reported that Judge Cheng was seen entering a motel in Taipei County with A Woman Who Is Not His Wife, where they stayed for an all-too-brief 70 minutes. Chastened by the attention, but not broken, the allegedly randy jurist did his best to put an innocent spin on the relationship:

And Tim noted:

*The photographer from the wormy Apple Daily checked into a nearby room just over 10 minutes after Cheng and Wang arrived at the motel.

* The wormy photographer was seen scouting the location by a motel worker two days prior to the incident.

* The judge admitted going to the motel, but the woman denied everything (being with the judge, having a "stomachache," going to the motel, etc.).

* The woman in the photos is wearing the standard "victim" disguise (big hat and sunglasses).

* The wormy Apple Daily claimed to have records of phone calls between the woman and the judge. Unless they are the police, how is it possible that they have these records? Did the woman provide them? If not her, who?

* Contra what the Liberty Times said about an untouched room, my wife tells me he wormy Apple Daily had photos of a room with its bed messed up. I asked how they were able to get into the room to take such photos. She suspects that the wormy photographer photographed his own room. The people at the wormy paper do love "reenacting" stuff -- even if it didn't happen.

In an FTV interview, the judge said that the reason he stepped down ws that because he had been duped, the public would tend to doubt his ability to do his job.

Having said all that, I'll believe there was an "affair" when there's evidence. For now, it's part of the same story as the "backwards" flag: an attempt to distract the public from Ma Ying-jeou's slip'n'slide into the political abyss.

Johnny Neihu, whose Saturday Newswatch Feature on the media in and about Taiwan have been getting better each week, commented on the case today, elaborating on some interesting connections:

It was while I was reflecting on the fine-tuned skills required for olde-style seduction -- and the privacy that most of us enjoyed as we went about our business -- that I reflected on the pathetic spectacle presented by the downfall of Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mo (城仲模).

You all know the story: Cheng takes an allegedly sick and definitely cute law professor half his age to a motel to recover, all the while being snapped by an intrepid Apple Daily photographer (Apple Daily, "Grand justice takes woman to motel," April 5, page 1).

Whether Cheng really was on his hands and knees cleaning up after his companion's gastro or instead teaching her the finer points of forensics law, I'm not convinced that we really needed to know about all of this. I don't see what it has to do with Cheng's capacity to do his job, but I see very clearly what this has to do with that newspaper raking in shitloads of cash.

But hang on for a moment. No one has noted that one of the reporters on the case was Hsieh Chung-liang (謝忠良). Hsieh enraged the National Security Bureau back in 2002 for leaking state secrets in Next Magazine (possibly receiving tip-offs from disgruntled spooks) that put former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in a poor light, resulting in a raid by prosecutors. The material also somehow found its way to the China Times and Hsieh's brother, Hsieh Kung-pin (謝公秉), now People First Party (PFP) spokesman, as well as a number of PFP legislators -- including Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) before he returned to the KMT.

And Cheng, of course, was the grand justice accused by scallywag former legislator Su Ying-kuei (蘇盈貴) of attempting to pervert the course of a legislator's insanity. Cheng has had close ties to Lee Teng-hui throughout his later career and quickly attracted the ire of the blue camp when his cordial relationship with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) became, in their opinion, too cordial.

That's some of the background. And I, like any half-assed journalist in this town, have been around long enough to know that things don't happen by accident.

These reporters were tipped off by Cheng's enemies of formidable standing, or else instructed by their superiors to get the judge. Given how much infidelity and how many dysfunctional families there are around the place, it is intriguing that the Apple Daily should choose this particular target. Who wanted one of the most senior judges in the land to fall, and why? Key questions, but you won't get the answers from the Apple Daily.

Hsieh was also sued by Liu Tai-ting back in 1996 for releasing a story that the KMT offered $15 million to the re-election campaign of President Clinton. The story's source later settled, and Hsieh and the American journalist involved were cleared by the court. Hsieh's previous foray into espionage in 2002 is detailed here.

I doubt we'll get any answers about why Cheng was setup! Cheng was involved in numerous campaigns as Justice Minister -- for example, cleaning up organized crime, and investigating Chinese money in Taiwan's elections back in the late 1990s. But feel free to email me what the little birds have been whispering in your ears, Johnny! I won't tell anyone except my loyal readers.....

UPDATE: Over on Forumosa Brian Kennedy pointed out that the Other Woman has an MBA from an unaccredited university, Preston U.

1 comment:

Tim Maddog said...

Great stuff from Johnny Neihu, though I think he's got a few details wrong ("definitely cute law professor," "cleaning up after his companion's gastro" [I thought the story was that the woman had diarrhea], and the part about "raking in shitloads of cash" [unless that cash is coming directly from the pan-blues, I think it's more about politics]).

Michael blogged:
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I doubt we'll get any answers about why Cheng was setup!
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Could it have something to do with Su Ying-kuei (Cheng's former student), Chen Shui-bian's "cordial[ity]," or maybe this (from the 2002 Taipei Times article linked above):
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PFP Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) said yesterday that her party would resort to "extreme measures" if prosecutors dare to search its headquarters.
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Think it might be a pre-emptive strike against something they know about but aren't letting the pan-blue media tell us? And how about that activist judge Lee Tzu-chun? With so much potentially self-damaging stuff coming from the pan-blues, I still think it has at least some relation to the Chen-Ma meeting.

It all boils down to the authoritarian-leaning pan-blues being sore losers. Why do they hate democracy? Well, that should be apparent! ;-)