Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Chen Scandal Revue: Perspirations and Inspirations

Adama: Politics. As exciting as war. Definitely as dangerous. Roslin: Though in war, you only get killed once. In politics it can happen over and over.

There's a wonderful scene in Terminator II, a movie rich in mythic and heroic tropes, when Sara Conner is standing in front of the chain link fence imagining the future when Los Angeles is hit by a nuke. The wave of force from the weapon starts from the point where it strikes and radiates out in a vast ripple, knocking down building after building.....

The perfect metaphor for our President Chen Scandal.

Everyone connected to the DPP is breaking out in a sweat.... front page of the Taipei Times and the China Post brings us an angry tirade from Chen Shui-bian's daughter Chen Hsing-yu. Tough, feisty, and short-tempered, the media has a habit of harassing her until she lashes out at them -- not difficult in a country where there are something like 14,000 24 hour news channels, all supplying reporters for the task. In one of her blasts at the reporters, A-bian's daughter blurted out that lots of DPP heavyweights had taken money from her father for their election campaigns. Hsieh, Su, and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu all hastily denied getting even one radioactive penny from former President Chen. However, the DPP's financial director said that the allegations of Chen Hsing-yu were largely true. The party has been in the middle of transitioning to a small donations mode. Too bad the local media doesn't show the same zeal going after the far more serious corruption of some other parties I could name.

Named as 5 main suspects in the case were Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), his wife Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), Chen’s son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), Chen’s daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚) and Wu’s brother Wu Ching-mao (吳景茂). As I have observed before, Huang Jui-ching is, among other things, my wife's first cousin by her sixth uncle (adopted out of the family when he was a babe). No, I don't have a penny of Chen's millions in my accounts, more's the pity. Chen's house was searched and he's forbidden to go abroad. Too bad he's not a high-ranking KMT member or he could just flee to China.... The former chief of the Ministry of Justice's investigation bureau, Yeh Sheng-mao, is also under investigation -- he admitted that the MOJ had been notified back in January of this mess. Other prominent individuals will likely be dragged into the case, with the former head of China Steel brought in since he was in charge of Chen's 2000 election funds. And the rep in Switzerland, George Lu, is under investigation for being tardy in reporting Swiss authorities' interest in this case. President Ma, himself an enthusiastic downloader of public funds into private accounts, said that this made Chen look like Marcos. Chen's apology rocks Taiwan's financial sector, says Forbes. Antonio Chiang, editor of Apple Daily and former Chen advisor, said that this was the worst betrayal in Taiwan's 400 year history.


Sick of this mess and want something inspirational? Today the Taipei Times started its new feature, Community Compass, on the expat community here in Taiwan. Featured are articles on surfing, pigeons, storytelling, and Robin Winkler, a Taiwan citizen and one of the most intense, inspirational, and committed individuals I have ever met. Or read this wonderful article on the cycling craze in Taiwan by Kathrin Hille of the Financial Times. My family bought four bikes this summer and we're getting in on the craze too...


Anonymous said...

Chen giving other politicians money doesn't mean anything, unless Chen said "hey hey, I have some illegal money, do you guys want some of that?" It was fine to accept the funds for the campaign if they didn't know and they properly reported it. To think of this another way, the party funds the KMT gives to its candidates doesn't have to be proven to be clean; accepting funds itself isn't usually a problem in Taiwan.

Though it's also questionable whether anyone ever honestly reports campaign contributions, I'd like to see evidence rather than someone obviously not in the know shooting their mouth off about something that on the face of it isn't illegal.

Anonymous said...

So Taipei Times decides to print, without qualification, a statement from an academic who blames the fact that most Taiwanese can't swim (see surfing article) on the KMT's martial law era beach obstacles?

Aside from the fact that I spent a lot of time during the martial law era at beaches from Kenting to Bai Sa Wan which were always extremely crowded with no barbed wire or anti tank barricades in sight, its this sort of statement that makes the TI brain trust look ridiculous.

I have rarely seen such patently absurd statements in the Liberty Times. My guess is that either (1) LT/TT thinks expats are so ignorant and gullible that they will believe such statements or (2) the authors of the new TT Compass features are young Taiwanese-Americans, who tend to be more militant tham domestic TI supporters, but have little or no first hand knowledge of the martial law era in Taiwan.

By the way, the real reason most Taiwanese can't swim because they hate being out in the sun.

Tom said...

If you are thinking in an idealist mode, then how about having a political party that will look forward and start from now, one that will not be burdened with the (no matter how righteous) burden of the past and one that will look for what is best for the future of the country of Taiwan. That party could and should challenge the KMT and President Ma to move forward and embrace the world (India, the Koreas, Japan, Vietnam, Europe, Australia) economically even if it cannot politically.

corey said...

Next year I will be returning to Taiwan. After establishing my apartment and such, my friend will be coming over from the States and we will cycle around the entire island; I hope to start and end in Changhua...but maybe Banciao (I know, two completely different places). Anyway, already started mapping out the route...can't wait for it.

Anonymous said...

A-bian let everyone down. A total self serving shit head. If he was man enough, he should have kept his promise to reform the Farmer's Association. But he wasn't up to the task. His petty thievery is testament to his true character and the demise of the DDP.

Anonymous said...

Sigh…it is depressing to watch Taiwanese news now.

Here’s a funny Taiwanese blog. 赤貧之戰 is spoof the movie 赤壁之戰. http://www.wretch.cc/blog/sega2727/29648407
It pokes fun at both KMT leaders and the Chen family.

The English translation on the pitures is bad, so hopefully your Chinese is good enough to appreciate the spoof as well as what some Taiwanese are saying about this scandal.

Ed en Vadrouille said...

I have been a biker for the past 10 years. I ride between 60 to 100km every week in Taipei city and county.
It's true that in certain area, you can tell people are really getting hooked up to it. Compared to mature markets like Europe, most people here have brand new bikes, very often some of these foldable mini-Dahon, and a much more geeky approach to accessories (Jerseys, shoes, lights, helmets, glasses, most often useless for their level of practice).

They also tend to go overboard equipment-wise before actually having adequate riding skills (compared to other countries). This make it quite strange to watch people with great gear doing dangerous manoeuvre in a very lame way.

But overall, it's great for them! They all look happy, do it in couples, in family, and seems to be having a great time. I had a ride with my company's VP, his wife, and their 4 years old son. The kid rode his bike 12km with no stabilisers.

The main issue in Taipei is that even some of the brand new infrastructure built for bicycles is already undersized. I'm specially thinking of the path Taipei-Danshui in its last 10kms. It sometime gets dangerous on weekend since there is so much bike traffic.

Things are quite different outside of Taipei. I rode from Tainan to Taipei last January-February, and most of the roads were completely unprepared for anybody like us, despite that we did meet quite a few people doing tours of Taiwan for the CNY. Clearly, there is a demand and a practice, but not answer to it yet.

For those of you who are interested in cycling in Taiwan, you should have a look on www.cycletaiwan.com and www.formosanfattire.com which are both english website dedicated to biking in Taiwan.

Ed en Vadrouille said...

On a completely different topic, while we know there is a double standard in Taiwanese politics about how accountable some are compared to others, it is no reason to let CSB not getting hammered for what he did.

Clearly, it is high time that an example is made in the prosecution of a high figure, for the simple reason that this must become the judicial standard and the future reference for any future similar case involving other politicians (hint, hint...).
Thus I really think it would be a responsible move to call for him to get prosecuted as far as he deserves, in spite of the cost for Taiwan's political life.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, Tom! The effective solvent for the deep-blue binding agents of social-class-mongering and cultural chauvinism is not a cultural chauvinism of the greens' very own but an open-mindedness that goes beyond both chauvinisms and embraces the world (not China) first and that lauds a Taiwanese-Chinese ability to focus on the future rather than the past.

There are plenty of moderates in urban Taiwan who voted blue in the last election who would support a party of solid professionals who convincingly promoted a vision of a Taiwan that bolsters national self-esteem by stepping into the future – a vision of a Taiwan that distinguishes itself not through cost-cutting business-practice adaptability but through innovation. The chief obstacles to such a party coming into viable existence are not blue media monopoly, KMT resources, or public pessimism or apathy. Rather, an education-system-conditioned inability to sustain cooperation on any level beyond the superficial is the problem. Generally, Taiwanese nod their heads at each other in agreement as each person keeps intending to continue with his own course of thinking and action. It is this passive-aggressive behavior – akin to a team of horses pulling in four different directions --, a toxic byproduct of the “harmony” value, which more than anything else prevents proactive change in Taiwan. This culturally self-defeating phenomenon was superbly encapsulated by a PRC national I once spoke with. He said, “One Chinese is better than two Japanese, but two Chinese are worse than two Japanese.” This statement may be less true by the day about PRC Chinese, but it remains very true about Taiwanese.