Saturday, November 11, 2006

So much, so fast.... one can keep up. The Taiwan News has a copy of Nobel Laureate Lee Yuan-tse's cowardly letter to Chen Shui-bian.

The transfer of power in 2000 symbolized the Taiwan people's hope to pursue a higher caliber of democracy. Their votes for the DPP displayed their dissatisfaction with a corrupt 50-year Kuomintang regime. However, a political party is comprised of imperfect beings, not saints, who are bound to make mistakes. A party that claims that it never makes mistakes must be a dishonest party. The key argument is whether or not a party can repent its mistakes, not whether a party can be flawless. The 2000 election results clearly demonstrated that the people would topple a party that fails to repent its errors and would side with a party that holds fast to core values of democracy and admits to and mend its errors.

The indictment represents a vital challenge to the long-term reform and establishment of Taiwan's democratic core values. The indictment has led the government, the ruling party and the people to a turning point. It is my opinion that if President Chen wants to act on the will of the people, which is to safeguard Taiwan's democracy, he must carefully consider whether he should resign. He and the DPP must choose to prioritize between the party and the entire country. The president and the party must evaluate whether they should continue to strive to achieve the value of democracy which the Taiwan people would always pursue.

I know that the right course is always the toughest one, but it is the only choice we must make for the sake of the nation and our prosperity. I believe that our love for this land, its people, and the nation is the fundamental element in deciding Taiwan's fate. I never think that I should support my country regardless of whether it is right or wrong. I believe that my country would survive and flourish only when it moves in the right direction.

Cowardly on two levels -- for it refuses to recognize or consider the actual case against President Chen, and it also refuses to say straight out what it means: Chen should resign. Lee's support was crucial to Chen's victory in 2000, but he has been critical of Chen since. Taiwan News also called for Chen's resignation. UPDATE: OK, OK, so I was pissed off and ignored the cross-cultural aspects of persuasion. I'd just like to see more rallying around and less he's down so I'll kick him.

Also, I haven't seen anything in the English papers yet, but several Chinese language sources are complaining about the fact that the prosecutor Eric Chen, a self-proclaimed Deep Green, has had dinner with Lee Teng-hui for several hours and bragged about it. Near as I can tell, this has occurred while the case has been unfolding. Those of you who had wondered about the probity of the prosecutor may wonder no more. It is totally unethical for a public prosecutor pursuing a case against the President to meet with the informal leader of a major political party in such a way.

Lee has been especially critical of Chen, whom he once termed Joshua to his Moses. The real question is which way Lee is playing this. The case is so thin, and the prosecutor has subtly emphasized how thin it is -- are they playing this so that the indictment collapses? Legal experts are debating the merits of the prosecutor's actions from the Constitutional point of view. Ah, talk, so cheap, speculation, so easy.


Anonymous said...

We should certainly evaluate the merits of Lee Yuan-tse's letter, but I don't think you should be doing it on an American basis. This is just how politicians talk in Taiwan, and it's how they've done it for a long time (when they're not busy yelling insults to your face), they use a lot of roundabout ways of criticizing.

Case in point: not too long ago, Lee Teng-hui was in the newspapers crowing about how loyal of a vice-president he was and how much he respected Chiang Ching-kuo while he worked with him. The whole deal was basically telling Annette Lu to shut up and stop talking like she is about to be the next president. It's obvious to everyone what he's saying, but he doesn't come out and say it.

Situation's the same here. "consider staying or resigning" is so obviously telling him to resign. If it wasn't he wouldn't say it. But we're not the only ones with great logic here. It's so obvious what Lee is saying to everyone that I don't see how you can construe it as cowardly.

Anonymous said...

Cowardly on two levels -- for it refuses to recognize or consider the actual case against President Chen, and it also refuses to say straight out what it means: Chen should resign.

Isn't it possible that he is being indirect because this is the style his Chinese audience would most accept? Aren't traditional Chinese styles of written persuasion different from American ones?

Michael Turton said...

You guys are right about traditional Chinese persuasion, but that's not really the point about cowardice. The real cowardice is that it refuses to deal with facts, and pretends that if Chen would just step down, things would be OK and Taiwan would go forward OK. It's not. It's the coward refusal to face the reality of bogus charges and pro-Blue politics that marks this letter. At least the Taiwan News editorial said bluntly they think he's innocent when they called for his resignation. Their logic of "you're beat, resign" was different than Lee's.

Also, note that bizarre sentence that asks the DPP to consider whether it should strive for the value of democracy. Say what?


Anonymous said...

You accuse Lee of cowardice... when your only official stance on the question is "leaning towards no, but could be convinced of yes"?

I don't know whether I should laugh or cry at the incredible, implicit hypocrisy in that statement. In fact, why would his words deserve such an emotional response from you? Could it be hitting a little close to home?

Lee, like many other former CSB supporters, have come to the conclusion that regardless of the truth of the claims against CSB, he's no longer a compelling leader for the nation. Lee isn't pretending to be an amateur judge, cobbling together an imperfect rendition of the true facts of the case. He's not sentencing CSB to prison.

I think his statement is easy enough to understand. The position of the presidency isn't necessarily a personal "right" that must be preserved, at all costs. Regardless of the truth of these allegations, CSB will find the rest of his administration dogged by this continued scandal. The presidential office will be crippled by ass-covering and receipt-searches, and the entire Taiwanese political system will be crippled even further.

Lee has given his answer to the question: what's best for Taiwan?

Michael Turton said...


You are right, from one perspective, to label my a "hypocrite" for sitting on the fence, sort of, while attacking Lee. You have a strong point.

But from another, Lee had a public opportunity to point out the many faults of the System, the unfairness of prosecuting Chen while dropping more important cases against other, more corrupt politicians, and so on. Lee declined to put his comments into any perspective, thus missing a key chance to change the shallow public discourse on the issue.