Friday, August 11, 2006

Linda Arrigo on Shih Ming-deh's Letter Urging Chen to Resign

Linda Arrigo just sent me this statement on Shih Ming-deh and his recent moves against Chen Shui-bian. Shih has written a letter, widely reprinted in the Blue press, asking Chen to step down, and recently said that he wanted to collect donations of NT$100 until he had amassed enough money to sit in front of the Presidential Office until Chen stepped down. Shih is fundamentally a tragedy that has been long in the unfolding; Arrigo, Shih's former wife, explains some of this.

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Statement by Linda Arrigo
Concerning
Shih Ming-Deh's Campaign to Remove President Chen Shui-bian from Office


August 11, 2006

[NOTE: Shih Ming-deh and Linda Gail Arrigo were married in June 1978 when he was under threat of arrest; Arrigo provided international contacts for the Formosa Magazine democratic movement through to 1980 and then overseas. She was persona non grata 1980-90. Arrigo divorced Shih in June 1995.]

At one time, Shih Ming-deh, personal name Nori, could claim credit for standing up against the dictatorship of the Kuomintang in the struggle to bring democracy to Taiwan. At the Kaohsiung Incident trials in March 1980 he made a brilliant argument that Taiwan had already been independent for thirty years. Chen Shui-bian entered his political life as a lawyer for the defendants then. I was proud to defend Nori's sacrifice in international human rights proclamations.

In 1992 Shih Ming-deh lost the election for chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party to Hsu Hsin-liang because Hsu bought a few dozen critical delegate votes, Nori told me; but he did not want to tear the party apart to fight it. My own interviews inside the party supported this. Elected in 1994, and then allied with New Tide (Hsin Chao-liu), Nori made some effort to reform the DPP internally, without success. In my view, after that Shih Ming-deh began to lose the idealism and clarity of purpose that had marked his earlier words and actions. His "coffee meeting" to make a deal with New Party in late 1995 was widely criticized as failing the cause of Taiwan independence, and in his defensive reaction he began to hobnob with former enemies, defenders of martial law such as James Soong (Soong Chu-yu), who as head of the Government Information Office in 1980 had vilified Shih.

Despite his earlier steeliness as a political prisoner for 25 years, or because of it, Shih Ming-deh's life habits did not do him well for the daily grind of administration as a legislator and party chairman, to my observation. A loner and a night-owl, he could not make office hours, or communicate systematically with his staff. Their dedication was mostly wasted. He was endlessly flattered by reporters and hangers-on, and addicted to women, drink, and cigarettes. I think it was this ineffectuality that left him to seek the limelight with statements that were striking but not team-coordinated. Lawyers such as Chen Shui-bian were used to written documents, hard work, early hours, and teamwork, and the lawyers soon upstaged him.

Shih's 1998 campaign as well as his 2001 unsuccessful bid for a legislative seat in Taipei was designed by Rising Peoples' (Hsing Hsin Min-zu) Foundation, Hsu Hsin-liang's organization, whose founding had been largely attended by liberal KMT figures. Shih did not support Chen Shui-bian's drive for the presidency in 2000. Among others, he gave a talk at Shih Hsin University sponsored by a New Party figure, and after presenting his philosophy of how he survived as a prisoner, he ended with pot shots at Chen. According to Lin Chung-mo, Lin got tired of Shih's grandstanding and thinking he could manipulate other DPP legislators, and Lin drove him out of the party caucus in 2000.

This is a brief glimpse of how I think Shih Ming-deh has come to play the role he has taken up now; people are continually asking me this. There has been a clear pattern of the KMT using former DPP figures to attack the DPP; and the KMT, formerly the richest political party in the world, has the resources to make this ploy attractive.

By now many years have passed, and although Shih Ming-deh sometime in the last year announced he was withdrawing from politics, he has now announced a campaign to unseat Chen Shui-bian, including the threat of extra-legal actions. Are we really to believe that Nori is doing this out of concern for the DPP and the highest of ideals? For the last six years at least his activities and announcements have seemed mysteriously coordinated with the interests of the Blue Forces, and even the Peoples First Party. PFP members, I was told, urged him to run for mayor of Kaohsiung, and provided the funding.

If he is so concerned about corruption, why hasn't he spoken out in the past on Soong's Chung Hsin case, or the issue of KMT party property? Or the Lafayette case?

If Shih Ming-deh is to set himself up as the center of a crusade against corruption, then I think it is fair to ask him to make public his own finances for the last several years, and to face squarely whether he has any interests together with the Kuomintang, which has been trying to bring down the DPP government from the very start, for a variety of pretexts, the first being Nuclear Power Plant No. 4.

Corruption has been long ingrained in Taiwan society, down to the lowest levels, and the change of ruling parties has only begun to alter the rules. We cannot defend the DPP in general or the President in particular in so far as they have taken the easier route of continuing past habits, trying to buy off the obstacles, and perhaps even lining their own pockets with unearned rewards. But is campaigning for Chen Shui-bian to step down now, without use of the present mechanisms of impeachment or recall, any advance towards democracy and the rule of law? Does it test or improve the present legal system? Or would it be a step back to the KMT's former easy appropriation of state resources and assets, when Ma Ying-jeou becomes president?

So why does Shih Ming-deh again want to foray into political action? It seems anachronistic for him to raise a specter of revolution, when now finally the citizens can exercise their vote. Does he have a long-term vision of what he wants? Does he still stand for Taiwan's emergence as an internationally-recognized nation? Or has he abandoned the ideal that he sacrificed 25 years of his life for, too?

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UPDATE: ESWN has Shih's letter in translation here. Shih defends himself:

In recent years, many vile thinkers have insulted me in many ways because I criticized your "platinum system" and I criticized your violation of the "spirit of the dual leadership" in the constitution. Over the last six years, many things have gone awry in administration and legislation and the national political scene has gone into a void, but your supporters and those who are sharing the spoils of the system attack me most frequently by saying: "Grapes that you cannot eat are always sour" and "Frustrated politician"! These vile thinkers do not know about the interactions between us:

As Linda points out, Shih was already working for the Blues before the 2000 election. Sad. If Shih had been competent, and gathered competent people to himself, he would have had a good shot at the Presidency. As it is, Shih has simply become irrelevant:

Shih Cheng-feng said that he suspected Shih Ming-teh's call for Chen to step down would have limited effect.

He did not think Chen needed to worry too much about it.

"Shih Ming-teh and other former DPP heavyweights such as former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) may please some pan-blue supporters with their anti-Bian [Chen] remarks, they do not necessarily have much influence on pro-independence supporters," he said.


When he ran for mayor of Kaohsiung, he received a whopping 1% of the vote.

UPDATE: Taiwan News ran this. Good.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this letter also being published in the Chinese media? Seems like Linda is talking directly to Shih by using his familiar name 'Nori' to represent his old, better self. Also, what about the word 'too' at the end- in the last sentence it is not obvious to me what else he 'abandoned', or else Linda is implying that Shih did in fact abandon all the things she lists in her final questions. How can a culture in which corruption is so second nature change? How does Taiwan's level of corruption in the government and everyday life compare to that of HK or Singapore? Also, isn't it more accepted in Japan for public officials to resign for wrongdoings that happen on their watch even in the absence of strong proof they were connected to the wrongdoings? Maybe Taiwan is following a Japanese cultural habit because they are more familiar with that type of democracy than American democracy.

David said...

Thanks for posting this Michael. I have always been perplexed by Shih Ming-teh and Hsu Hsin-liang's involvement with the pan-Blue parties. This helps me to understand it a little better.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I think Linda Arrigo's statement should be published in the Taipei Times or Taiwan News also. Can you ask her if she is willing to do that?

Anonymous said...

Linda also has contacts who can translate this into Chinese for her. It would be really great if she published it in Chinese too... this is so juicy that Chinese media would lap it up.

(Juicy, like Jolin's fake breasts, does not mean important, but in this case, the information is important and the fact that it does have that kind of news-entertainment appeal does make it easier for the information to make its way out there.)

Michael Turton said...

I asked Linda about putting it in the TT when she sent it to me, but so far no reply.

Anonymous said...

Why would Linda Arrigo send this statement for English blogger consumption? Just for our edification? If so, I find that extremely kind and friendly on her part. My feeling is that she wants it to get back to Nori. Do the Blues and Greens have people monitoring the foreign blogs? Do politicians in Taiwan care about the opinions of foreigners on Taiwan? I can see why they would care about a person like Linda or her mother who would lobby the US Congress on behalf of Taiwan, but are there any other foreigners in Taiwan who would do that? Are there readers of Taiwan English language blogs who would do that? I have a lot of respect for Linda Arrigo. Years ago I once read an excerpt from an autobiographical piece she had written, but which I don't think she ever published in book form. I believe what she says. That's why I feel so sad for Nori. How do you adjust after 25 years in prison? He'll always have a place in Taiwan history.I hope he will continue to have a positive impact, although I have to agree that calling for Chen to resign without following the mechanisms of democracy is not positive.

The 1960s said...

Thanks for the posting! Michael.

I don’t wish to see Chen Shui-bian resign as president emotionally, but, rationally, I do, once there’s evidence supporting that President Chen or the First lady is involved in the scandal.

Linda’s comment on Shih really gets to the point. A democratic prophet thirty years ago turns out to be now a specter of revolution? It’s something more than anachronistic for him; it is historically sarcastic. We already know this guy since he began seeking “stage” in the pan blue camp. And I don’t believe what he is doing simply comes out of concern for the DPP, for the country but any underlying interests – at least he appears on the headline news again.

I made a Chinese translation of Linda’s statement and posted it on my Chinese blog Johnny’s Channel. Wish I didn’t misinterpret her words.

Anonymous said...

http://0rz.net/121Ic

Ex-vice chief secretary of National Security Council in his column:

Shih accuses Chen of playing 2 hands that Chen asks to meet him but sends some guys to bark at him. It's not fair for Chen. Some people are just born to be a doggy. They want to protect their master, but his master can't control them when or whom to bark at. Shih can't count this on Chen.


LOL

Anonymous said...

It's been translated and published on the Taiwan Times. The translation sucks.

http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_content.php?id=154197&lang=tc_news&cate_img=&cate_rss=tTaiwan#

David said...

The Taipei Times ran an article by Linda yesterday.

The China Post even carried a story about it on their back page today.

BT--the Big Tiger said...

I don't think it is ethical for Linda Arrigo to criticize her ex-husband Shih Ming-Deh, using a self-proclaimed privileged observer's position. Since she admitted theirs was a "political marriage", and still felt deeply bitter about Shih's "addition to women, drink and cigarettes", then I don't see how this apparent lovers' feud could possibly add credibility to her statement.
Again, a revolutionist needs not to be a sage, and a sage can never lead a revolution. He may be faulted, if Linda was telling the truth, by not being a good administrator and all,but he never said he was Bill Gates either. If he elects to associate with the blue campers, or female blue campers, in his own time, that is entirely his own business. Plus, he has been single for eleven years, and he is an adult. For Christ's sake, if he sleeps around, gung-ho for the 66-year-old man.
And now is time people need a leader with passion that burns, that arouses, that intoxicates. Shih is the man they choose to follow. If they are all blind, then there will be at least 1 million blind people who are willingly, and eagerly following the irresponsible and lascivious bastard--yes, to the fireline.
Linda, it's been more than ten years. let it go. This is not your fight!
B T yang
bingtyang@gmail.com
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/btyang-myblog

Michael Turton said...

It's probably a good idea to actually read what is said, rather than reading into the letter. What Linda said about Shih's effectiveness was this:

Despite his earlier steeliness as a political prisoner for 25 years, or because of it, Shih Ming-deh's life habits did not do him well for the daily grind of administration as a legislator and party chairman, to my observation. A loner and a night-owl, he could not make office hours, or communicate systematically with his staff. Their dedication was mostly wasted. He was endlessly flattered by reporters and hangers-on, and addicted to women, drink, and cigarettes. I think it was this ineffectuality that left him to seek the limelight with statements that were striking but not team-coordinated. Lawyers such as Chen Shui-bian were used to written documents, hard work, early hours, and teamwork, and the lawyers soon upstaged him.

Thus your comment:

Since she admitted theirs was a "political marriage", and still felt deeply bitter about Shih's "addition to women, drink and cigarettes", then I don't see how this apparent lovers' feud could possibly add credibility to her statement.

None of this is visible in what Linda has actually written, for Linda wrote that his various problems were only one component of his inability to lead. Further, Linda is not the only who has made this observation about Shih.

He may be faulted, if Linda was telling the truth, by not being a good administrator and all,but he never said he was Bill Gates either.

That's just ridiculous. If you take the position of Chairman, you need administrative skills. You don't have to be Bill Gates, but you do have to do the job. It is not a defense of Shih to say that there are better administrators. That's a given.

And further, no matter how you slice it, Shih's cooperation with the anti-democracy side is unconscionable. There's nothing "passionate" or "intoxicating" about attacking a man whom no evidence links to corruption, while at your back you are supported by James Soong, recently conviced of $26.5 million in tax evasion, and indentified in a French court as the bagman in a US$400 million kickback scandal, Lien Chan, whom the Chairman of Taiwan pineapple said he bribed to the tune of NT$100 million, and Ma Ying-jeou, whose chosen candidates include a large number of people now under indictment, and under indictment when he supported them.

Let's just say that Shih's vision of a clean Taiwan is rather selective...

Michael

BT--the Big Tiger said...

First of all, Linda said about their "political marriage" at the 9:00 pm talk show on Formosa TV a week ago, right after she published her letter and catapulted herself to the limelight.
Second, I do know what to believe when people claim someone is, or is not a good administrator. But coming from an ex-wife? Definitely no!
I am no management guru, but still I think it is an black art.Is a nice guy working around the clock a good administrator, or someone who knows how to delegate and how to inspire others? Was Reagan, a hands-off manager, a good president? Was JFK, a well-known womanizer, a good administrator?
Who would know if the night-owl like Shih was not doing the "thinking" for the DDP's future while burning night oil? A good adminstrator should think, shouldn't he? When would be best time to think, during busy "team-work" hours? A bean counter works very hard, very very hard indeed--but still counting beans, right?
Yes, we all have opinions about someone, but I have a strange feeling that the opinion from an ex-wife might be too biased.
Incidentally, turn on TV now and you will find Shih's first wife Chen Li-Juh whom he divorced 30 years ago, at a meeting arranged by the DDP legislators (another interesting coincidence!), accused him of being an irresponsible husband, and threadtened to make public Shih's private letters showing he was begging CKS for forgiveness.
Frankly, I do really care what's in the letters--in those days, you could only write "correct" letters. But what bothers me the most is, again, that DPP is enlisting another his ex-wife to discredit him, instead of facing the anti-Bian movement. As if no ends to the absurdity, this time around, we are talking about a man and a woman parted some thirty years ago!! Ask yourself where you were and what you did 30 years ago, then ask again someone who have been hating your guts for 30 years the same questions. Most likely, you will get some interesting answers.
No, we don't see things the same way and we don't share the same memories. Leave personal feeling personal.
Third, don't digress from the subject, what we are talking about here has nothing to do with James Song, not Lien Chan, nor Ma Ying-Jeou (for if we keep on going, we may drag in CKS, Zen and the poor old Confucius). The progtagnist for the corruptions and the abuse of power is Ah-Bian, and Shih is leading the campaign to force the man out, simple and clear. No one said Shih is flawless in character, and now at least one-million people have voiced their trust in him by sending NT100 their hard-earned money.
Again, Linda, this is not your fight--this is the fight of the people!
History will always side with the people.

The Big Tiger Yang
8/22/06 TPE

Anonymous said...

The Taipei Times published a letter today ("Letter: A letter to Shih Ming-teh") by Gerrit van der Wees and Mei-chin Chen International Committee for Human Rights in Taiwan from Washington. The letter speaks of how disappointed these two people are in Shih, especially after they campained for his release from prison in the eighties.

Michael Turton said...

First of all, Linda said about their "political marriage" at the 9:00 pm talk show on Formosa TV a week ago, right after she published her letter and catapulted herself to the limelight.

I didn't deny it was a political marriage!

inspire others? Was Reagan, a hands-off manager, a good president? Was JFK, a well-known womanizer, a good administrator?

No, and no.

Who would know if the night-owl like Shih was not doing the "thinking" for the DDP's future while burning night oil?

The other DPPers who got together and forced him to step down so they could go about building the party.

Yes, we all have opinions about someone, but I have a strange feeling that the opinion from an ex-wife might be too biased.

It might be, but it is hard to see how someone who married for a "political marriage" could be so biased. In any case, you haven't demonstrated any bias on Linda's part.

We're all human beings, so I have no doubt LInda has her biases. But what they are is your job to show, not merely assert. Linda's claims have support from many other people.

Incidentally, turn on TV now and you will find Shih's first wife Chen Li-Juh whom he divorced 30 years ago, at a meeting arranged by the DDP legislators (another interesting coincidence!), accused him of being an irresponsible husband, and threadtened to make public Shih's private letters showing he was begging CKS for forgiveness.

Yes, so I hear.

Frankly, I do really care what's in the letters--in those days, you could only write "correct" letters.

I agree. When you're in prison facing loneliness, death, torture, and insanity, you'll write anything.


But what bothers me the most is, again, that DPP is enlisting another his ex-wife to discredit him, instead of facing the anti-Bian movement.

That's ridiculous. This is politics, and the DPP has faced the anti-Chen forces in many different ways. If Shih's wives wish to hand the movement more weapons, more power to them.

The reason that the DPP resorts to such tactics is that the anti-Chen forces have no positive program of their own. They are not anti-corruption or pro-democracy. They do not stand for business, small or large. They do not support particular laws or policies. They just send out waves of purposeless hate. They are retrograde as far as Taiwan's development is concerned.

Third, don't digress from the subject, what we are talking about here has nothing to do with James Song, not Lien Chan, nor Ma Ying-Jeou

Wrong. If you really want clean government, you should focus on all sources of dirt. The fact that the anti-Chen movement ignores massive corruption elsewhere in government and society shows that it is simply a partisan political movement driven by the needs of the Blues.

The progtagnist for the corruptions and the abuse of power is Ah-Bian, and Shih is leading the campaign to force the man out, simple and clear.

Unfortunately there is no solid evidence that Chen has done anything wrong. Until you (1) come up with evidence and (2) come out against all corruption, you are simply supporting a partisan, anti-democracy, pro-Blue movement that, as AIT has already warned, has grave implications for Taiwan's future.

No one said Shih is flawless in character, and now at least one-million people have voiced their trust in him by sending NT100 their hard-earned money.

There's a what born every minute?

Michael

Anonymous said...

No one said Shih is flawless in character, and now at least one-million people have voiced their trust in him by sending NT100 their hard-earned money.

There's a what born every minute?

In Taiwan a baby, likely with liver disease and genetically bad teeth.

Very informative thread and comments. In searching the world media I have found scant news of the massive demonstrations so far.
Hopefully this thread will provide some needed background.
This is "Only the beginning"...cue up "Chicago"

Anonymous said...

I've met Linda before at an expat breakfast in Taipei... I've also read her letter in Taipei times. She is in the central committee of the Green Party (not with the DPP), and she stands for and actually DOES WORK for all the high-minded ideals that Shih professes to do. As a grassroots activist abroad for 10 years I've seen this time and time again... and I've learned how to separate the poseurs from activists: those who make rousing speeches but don't do any of the unglamourous work. I think Arrigo hit it right on the head: lawyers who are used to working hard vs. political superstars who are great at making speeches but leave others to clean up their mess. My hero (and namesake) Peng Ming-min knew that he belonged to the "rousing-speaker-poseur" category and he quit before the popularity got to him. Shih probably did sit in prison too long and now he wants what's his.

As a recent expat in Taiwan after 20-some years away I am ashamed and disappointed by how gullible and mob-like Taiwanese people still are. How can 50 years of fascism, brainwashing, and media monopoly be fixed with a single election? Why hasn't the Taiwanese people risen up and stormed the news agencies and taken them over? The Chinese-aristocracy-in-exile in Taiwan OWNS the press. Their party apparati (KMT and PFP) are the most corrupt and wealthy in world history. And all they had to do is to throw some money at some ex-DPP flunkie (who probably spent as much time in political prison as did my uncle... who became mentally ill in prison) and suddenly we have a "popular revolution" against corruption... a very skewed one, funded by the REAL corrupt politicians.

Taiwanese people have to stop relying on the press, on political superstars, on the Japanese, on the Americans, on the Chinese... and start relying on themselves. Organize on the grassroots level... in union halls, in temples, in social organizations. Take over or create their own media. Cut out the KMT entirely as it continues to be a festering cancer eating away at democracy. I don't care about DPP's survival. But I do care if trouble comes to the only bulwark against the spector of murder and fascism under KMT.

The Chinese aristocracy in Taiwan should take notes from Venezuela. The masses always wins sooner or later. Maybe Shih's red army will inadvertently wake up and galvanize the rest of Taiwan.

MJ Klein said...

Jolin's breasts are fake?