Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chen Shui-bian indicted

Former President Chen Shui-bian was indicted yesterday, Friday, the 12 of December. The Special Investigations Unit which handled the investigation of Chen and his family had this to say:

“The crimes committed by former President Chen Shui-bian in the four cases are severe. The illicit funds he gained from the cases were unprecedented in history. During the investigation, he kept criticizing the justice system and showed no regrets whatsoever about what he had committed. Serving two terms as President of the Republic of China, he used to solemnly swear by the Constitution that he would be loyal in his duties and that he was willing to accept the severest punishment if he breached his oath. He knows the law but violate the law. Therefore, the SIU has decided to seek the severest punishment from the court,” said SIU spokesman Chen Yun-nan.
It's pointless to reiterate how ridiculous the verbiage is here -- I will only quote from a NYTimes op-ed on the prosecutor's statements in the case against the Gov. of Illinois for attempting to sell Barack Obama's vacant senate seat:

The court in which Mr. Blagojevich is charged, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, has a local rule mandating that a “lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is likely to be disseminated by public media and, if so disseminated, would pose a serious and imminent threat to the fairness of an adjudicative proceeding.” The rule goes on to say that a public statement "ordinarily is likely to have such an effect when it refers to" a criminal matter and to "the character or reputation of the accused, or any opinion as to the accused’s guilt or innocence, as to the merits of the case, or as to the evidence in the case." The American Bar Association’s model rules are similar, if not more restrictive.

Against this backdrop, it is hard to feel comfortable with Mr. Fitzgerald’s remarks in announcing the charges that Mr. Blagojevich’s conduct amounted to a "political corruption crime spree" and "would make Lincoln roll over in his grave," that "the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," that Mr. Blagojevich "put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States senator" and that his conduct was "cynical" and “appalling” and has "taken us to a truly new low."

Chen was indicted and released, though he cannot travel and was confined to his home. Apparently cuffs were not necessary this time. Chen is accused of stealing about $3.1 million US from the special funds.

In addition to destroying Chen, whom the Blues have been obsessing about for years, this has some other political dimensions to it. Chen stated shortly after the case broke that the Special Funds were being used to fund dissidents in China. You can imagine what governments might be interested in tracking that flow of funds. It has also been pointed out to me that by trolling through Chen's bank records and forcing testimony from scores of people close to Chen, a pretty good picture of the DPP donor base can be developed. Of course there is the political capital to be gained from pinning Chen to the DPP, and from stoking the Chen case so the public forgets about how badly the country is being run right now, and that the island's relations with China are being handled by party-to-party talks outside the democratic purview of the populace. Chen Shui-bian is so useful, if he didn't exist, he would have to be invented.

There's not much else to say. This case has been going for 2 years. It is now up to the Courts.

UPDATE: AP has a detailed account of some of the many lurid accusations here. Although I can't imagine how they could have written that Chen's election was thought by the Taiwanese to put "an end to the decades of endemic corruption" here.

UPDATE 2: AFP reports that they are going after Lee Teng-hui. Everyone on the independence and democracy side must be running scared.


David said...

Does Taiwan have a contempt of court law? If such a law were properly enforced here prosecutors could go on a "spree" charging media, judges and politicians left, right and centre.

Haitien said...

According to a BCC report, sources near Lee are saying that the NSB and Investigation Bureau have already investigated and cleared Lee in the past. It is claimed that this latest probe was motivated by things Chen said while in custody.

This whole thing reeks of politics. In addition to the usual selective enforcement and character assassination, I wonder if the KMT is now trying to drive a wedge between the various factions in the pan-Green bloc as extra insurance against a unified opposition.

Unknown said...

Hi Michael, thank you for the link (NYT Op-Ed). The article offers a nice insight about the value truly treasured by a civilized society.

Prosecutors' extrajudicial statement is unquestionably deplorable. If Fitzgerald's harsh attack on Blagojevich could compromise a fair trial, then is a fair trial even possible for the former President Chen? Mr. Chen not only has to sustain unnecessary criticism from prosecutors, but he (and his family) is essentially lynched on the daily basis in media and by public opinion for more than 2 years. I agree that the main purpose for brining forward the case in such manner is not about securing justice.

MJ Klein said...

"Everyone on the independence and democracy side must be running scared."

how long before they start deporting foreigners?

Michael Turton said...

This whole thing reeks of politics. In addition to the usual selective enforcement and character assassination, I wonder if the KMT is now trying to drive a wedge between the various factions in the pan-Green bloc as extra insurance against a unified opposition.

Not to mention that Lee still has a following in the KMT.

What's in the offing? Well, there are a lot of businessmen that are pro-Green, and they are vulnerable in all sorts of areas, from tax evasion to environmental and safety rules.


Michael Turton said...

e prosecutors could go on a "spree" charging media, judges and politicians left, right and centre.

Probably. But you can detain anyone here for no reason for up to four months.

Haitien said...

Not to mention that Lee still has a following in the KMT.

Just wondering if you could elaborate a bit on this, Michael. I was under the impression that most of the nativist faction in the KMT followed Lee to the TSU?

If there are any left, I'm wondering why no one in the KMT has tried to stand up against what Ma is doing. They can't all be fine with selling Taiwan to the PRC, or watching the ROC disappear (or at the very least, embracing Ma's increasingly ineffectual policies).

Anonymous said...

What's certainly evident is that Chen will not receive a fair trial. This sounds like the kangaroo trials so commonplace in China.

Michael Turton said...

The interesting thing about the TSU, Haitien, was that it was not a nativist party but a weird collection of mainlanders and taiwanese.

I can't really elaborate on LTH's following within the KMT.


Anonymous said...

If they go after Lee... he should spill it all... all the dirt on Lien... Ma... Soong... all the secret deals ... put it all out on the table. I imagine that's why they haven't done it so far. As a founding member of The Big Bug Club Lee knows too much.

Anonymous said...

Re Haitien's request to know more about Lee's alliances: Lee voiced an idea that has a lot of support on both sides of the strait; that "...'Greater China' would be better off divided into perhaps seven autonomous regions..."

His use of subjunctive perhaps disguises the substantial support this idea has not only on two sides of the straits, but also across political and party lines.

Of course none of the state controlled media in either country would allow this idea to be floated among the public!

Lee is also pro-unification, but I think under compeltely different terms than what the PRC wants.

(see "Why Taiwan?", Alan M. Wachman, Stanford University Press, 2007. p13,p171 [58]).

Anonymous said...

"I can't really elaborate on LTH's following within the KMT."

Whoa, you are saying you can't say? Like you know, but you can't say?

Anonymous said...

Anette Lu's comment on Chen? I hope you'll write something on that (:

Michael Turton said...

No, I've heard Lee still has KMT followers but I don't know anything about them.


Anonymous said...

It's been confirmed by the special prosecutors office that they are going to investigate Lee Teng-hui, so it's not just a rumor anymore.

There was never transitional justice in Taiwan. How far back do they want to go? Why couldn't you go back and investigate Chiang Ching-Kuo and take away unlawful earnings from relatives that inherited from him? This is scary, but if you take it to its conclusion, it becomes an argument for transitional justice.

Anonymous said...

I doubt this is an effort to drive a wedge between green factions. It looks to me more like an effort to intimidate greens in general. Or to have "distraction" insurance to trot out if ratings and polls show the public is tiring of the focus on Chen. Or it's a threat by Ma to Lien and others in the old guard to remember that the "Mister" is president, because Lee in the docket means Lien exposed, too -- and everyone involved in the Lafayette scandal vulnerable.

I guess it's all of these things.

Anonymous said...

For contrast, observe how no one below is doing politics first through the courts or at all through former teachers. The transcipt below is being circulated among top American journalists, but it's authenticity has not been confirmed. Could be a crock. But authentic or crock, can any Apple Daily stories hold a candle to this?

FBI File #9536B

Wiretap on line 312-XXX-XXXX -- November 10th, 2008

12:42 PM Eastern Time

Rush transcript:

RAHM EMANUEL: This is Rahm.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Hey Rahm, yeah it's Rod.

EMANUEL: Uh-huh. What's going on governor, I'm busy.

BLAGO: Well, it's about that Senate appointment...

EMANUEL: We already gave you the list of people we like.

BLAGO: Yeah, I been looking the list over. Interesting names. Good people. How's the transition going?

EMANUEL: It's going fine, governor. Are you calling to fucking tell me anything, or what, cause I--

BLAGO: No no, I'm just wondering if you have all your picks already made. I heard something about Dashle for HHS--

EMANUEL: I'm not gonna discuss ongoing deliberations, gov, you know that.

BLAGO: Hey, come on Rahm, let's not act like I'm a stranger 20 here.

EMANUEL: Did I call you a stranger? If I thought you were a stranger, you think I'd be interrupting my important fucking business to take this goddam fucking phone call?

BLAGO: Hey you don't have to get curt with me, Rahm.

EMANUEL: This isn't me being curt, Gov, this is me being fucking busy. Now what did you call about?

BLAGO: I'm just feeling you out, seeing if Valerie [Jarret] still wants that Senate seat, just wondering what kind of priority that is for the President-Elect.

EMANUEL: Actually, it's not a priority. Valerie's had second thoughts about the job.

BLAGO: What, she doesn't want it anymore?

EMANUEL: She's having second thoughts. You want more details, you ask her.

BLAGO: She won't take my calls.

EMANUEL: Big fucking surprise.

BLAGO: What's that supposed to mean?

EMANUEL: Um, I don't know, what's it supposed to mean governor? A.) You're a fucking crook. B.) You're a fucking asshole. C.) All of the above.

BLAGO: I'm clean Rahm, you know this. You think that fucking Fitzgerald would being twiddling his fucking thumbs if he had shit to go on?

EMANUEL: I gotta go, Gov. You appoint who you want, we don't really give a shit.

BLAGO: What if I appoint Valerie, what if she takes it?

EMANUEL: What do you want me to say? We'd appreciate it, I'm not gonna fucking kiss your ring over it.

BLAGO: "Appreciate it"? Come on, this is a senate seat we're talking about. It's worth a fuck of a lot more than appreciation.

EMANUEL: You asked us for a list, we gave you a fucking list, you want to make your own list then make your own fucking list. [Raising voice] But if you're asking for anything else from me, or Barack, or Valerie, then you can fucking stop talking right now Rod.

BLAGO: Wait a sec there Rahm. Wait just a fucking minute. Who are you to talk to me like that? I fucking made you.

EMANUEL: You made me? You made me? Tell me you're fucking joking.

BLAGO: No no no, you listen to me shit-face. You see this list I got, the names motherfucking Obama fucking wants for the Senate. I just ripped it in two. How you like that? Oops, Harris just dropped it in the shredder. Harris?

HARRIS (muffled): Yes sir?

BLAGO: Did you just drop that list in the shredder?

[Whirring, shredder noise]

HARRIS (muffled): I did.

EMANUEL: Do you have me on fucking speakerphone?

BLAGO: It's in the shredder, Rahm. The list is bye bye.

EMANUEL: Hold on a sec -- you got me on fucking speakerphone? Who the fuck do you think I am?

BLAGO: Who are you Rahm? Who are you? You're shit, you hear me? Don't come back to Chicago Rahm, it's not your town any more.

EMANUEL: Pick up the phone Rod.

BLAGO: I'll put someone in the senate who will fucking fuck you. I might even put myself in there, how you like that Rahm? How you gonna explain that to fucking Barack, every time he's gotta call me up for my fucking vote. He'd have to take my calls then, wouldn't he?

EMANUEL: [Screaming] I said pick up the FUCKING phone!

BLAGO: [Picks up phone, speakerphone off] I got your attention now, didn't I?

EMANUEL: Shut the fuck up and listen to me for one second Rod. And I want you to listen carefully, because this is the last time I'm ever going to talk to you. You are fucking dea d to me. You been fucking dead to Barack since '06, now you're dead to me. Know what that means? That means you're dead to my people in Chicago, Daley on down, and all these friends you think you have aren't gonna touch you with a ten foot fucking pole.

BLAGO: Oh now you're the fucking Godfather? Fuck you.

EMANUEL: No fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

BLAGO: Fuck you!

EMANUEL: Listen up asshole. The shit's gonna hit the fan, maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, and when Fitz finally brings down the hammer it's gonna be my name that's going through your head. You won't know the hows or the fucking whys, but it's gonna have my fucking fingerprints all over it. Have a great life fatso.

BLAGO: Hey fuck--

EMANUEL: [Click.]

End of conversation

End transcript.--