Saturday, December 20, 2008

New Taiwan Weekly Case

The Taipei Times editorialized today about our Taiwan's judicial system, and pointing to the case of New Taiwan magazine editor Chen Tsung-yi:

Meanwhile, the SIP’s colleagues over at the Bureau of Investigation have been hard at work tracking down the profligate and the venal. The latest suspect is Chen Tsung-yi (陳宗逸), news desk head at the defunct New Taiwan Weekly, a pro-independence magazine.

What we cannot understand is how a “corruption investigation” would prompt the bureau’s staff to allegedly probe Chen Tsung-yi’s knowledge of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), a Washington NGO that serves as an advocate for Taiwan, about the North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association or whether Chen had studied overseas.

With these various incidents, the perception that public institutions are prone to incompetence and/or serving partisan interests can only harden. Those with the dreadful, direct experience of harassment by security forces in previous decades will also react to Chen Tsung-yi’s allegations with outrage and fear. This fear — rational or otherwise — can only be compounded by Chen Tsung-yi’s claim that all four of the agents who entered his home were Mainlanders.

The details of the last incident need to be verified, but for now, it appears that Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) is in danger of seeing yet another discrediting incident call both her leadership and the conduct of her investigative staff into question.
Yesterday Chen Tsung-yi sent around this email, in which he talks about how he was questioned, and also threatened with charges for attempting to videotape events.



一個白臉拿Sony Camcorder蒐證
另一個白臉安撫 帶頭的說這樣會妨礙公務
並且要我將數位相機裡面 有關他們的照片全部刪掉
我在臨時的情況下 不知道這是否合法

因為我很潔癖 電腦桌面沒有留太多資料

他跟秘書長報告 陳先生似乎很不爽
並且暗示 也到我父親的公司進行搜索

所以 我才會遭到搜索

我盡量壓抑自己的情緒 不發一語
所以開始跟我扯一些 我是不是法律背景啦之類的哈拉
我理都不理 因為每一句話未來都可能變成證供

我在初期 他在電話中提到FAPA時
FAPA是海外民間社團 講的是台獨理念
帶頭的打哈哈 說現在是民主時代 台獨不是問題
基於案情不公開 他沒有扯太多
但是他一直好奇問我 為什麼我知道FAPA 和北美台灣人教授協會
我說白癡看報都知道FAPA 有什麼奇怪的
他開始說 你知道的還蠻多的 是不是有留學外國
我開始沉默不與 不想理他
只剩下我母親一直說 我什麼都不知道....
今天 在台灣民主化、獨立化二十年 結果變成中國化的今天

我被搜索 跟其他許多人在這段時間所受的司法苦難比起來(不包括陳水扁)
我認為 整個戲才開始上演 是戰鬥的時刻了

Is this a trend? Hard to say. The brilliant thing about Leninist political systems -- and here I refer to organization, not political slant -- is that the ideology that drives them, and the party structure, both interpenetrate deeply into every aspect human life. This is true of all Leninist organizations, from the Communist Party of Russia, to the KMT, to the Nazi party, which subscribe to Leninist organizational structures though having a different ideology from Lenin himself. Adherents/victims in such systems experience its ideology as supreme in all facets of life, and know how to behave in a given situation because they have internalized that ideology as their own identity -- a number of scholars have nailed this in observing the "quasireligious" nature of the KMT. So when four mainlander officials, presumably Blues of some sort, enter the house of a prominent Green to conduct a search, did the topics of connections to overseas organizations come up as the result of orders from above, or as the inevitable result of a certain mentality, a certain mode of thinking, inherent to the Blue identity? This just shows how hard it will be to root out this type of thinking.

The Taipei Times report on the case did say that Chen said the investigators called their office to discuss FAPA:

During the search, Chen said the agents talked on the telephone with what seemed to be two superiors and mentioned the US-based pro-Taiwan group Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA).

“I asked them what FAPA — an overseas civic organization that promotes Taiwan independence — had to do with a corruption case. The leader said he could not reveal details about the investigation and that promoting Taiwan independence was not an issue since the nation is a democracy,” Chen said in the e-mail.

He added that the lead agent continued to ask about FAPA and another US-based pro-independence organization, the North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association.

“Suddenly I realized that the purge by prosecutors and the Investigation Bureau is now looking at overseas pro-independence groups and I was searched because my uncle has long served as FAPA chairman and executive director — in other words, I think this [search] was a warning to me,” Chen wrote.

If we get more cases like this, then we can call it a problem. Except that the well-known commentator Paul Lin also had an experience...from the same Taipei Times article:

Meanwhile, political columnist Paul Lin (林保華) penned an article in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Wednesday in which he said police from his local precinct had come to his house for no reason.

Paul Lin said he suspected the visit had something to do with recent articles he has written on police abusing their power and disregarding human rights.

Do we have a problem yet? Maybe...or maybe it is just a certain mentality at work -- which means, in the end, that if we don't have a problem now, we will at some point. Keep in mind that the details of these cases have to be verified. Until then, I leave you with the Taipei Times' dismissal of the local judiciary:

It may not rank among the most substantial news stories of the year, but yesterday’s decision by the Kaohsiung District Court to refuse an adoption request by an American couple for a developmentally disabled Taiwanese girl was a stunning example of how Taiwanese justice can resemble a drunken crap shoot.

The would-be parents, whose excellent educational credentials proved to be their downfall, can appeal, but for the rest of us the real question is what caliber of people are being appointed to serve as arbiters of the law.

The court effectively said that the couple, both Harvard graduates and doctorate holders, were at risk of abandoning or otherwise mistreating the child because she was likely to fail to live up to their expectations.
Welcome to Taiwan, folks.


Anonymous said...

hi mike, an article on tw govnt being a main donor to the clinton foundation

Anonymous said...

"Leninism is an organizational stance, not a political one."

I think you need to come up with another term to explain the goings on within authoritarian political structures. Leninism is an ideology that holds (among other self-flattering ideas) that the proletariat needs "professional revolutionaries" (such as the Bolsheviks) to overthrow the oppressive capitalist system, the myth of democratic centralism, the claptrap about how imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism etc. ad nauseum...

Michael Turton said...

Leninism is applied to Communism is. But other Leninist structures have different political ideologies -- Mormonism, the early Christian Church, the Nazis, the KMT -- were all Leninist organizations but were not communist.

A Leninist structure is defined by its interpenetration of Party/Organization into everyday life, the importance of ideology in the constitution of personal identity (be a good Communist/Mormon/KMT Chinese/ Christian/Nazi by _______), cell structures guided by cell leaders under commissars, groups that ensure the individual is in the structure at all times (children, youth, and adult) during their formative periods, the control of and interpenetration of all social and political institution by the Party/Organization, the primacy of ideology over reality, etc. The political stance is not really relevant. Organization trumps all.


Anonymous said...

I see your point. But hidebound political science degree-holder that I am (which explains why I can only teach English for a living), the word "Leninism" still conjures up images of cloth caps, pointy beards and bad art, and I just can't apply the word to Mormons, Nazis and Chinese Nationalists.

However, seeing as the early Christian Church predates the development of Leninism by quite a few centuries, perhaps "Christian" might be the more accurate adjective in this case?

Michael Turton said...

Jim, what's a house Church? A cell. A pastor? A cell leader. A bishop? A political commissar. Dogma? Doctrine. Etc.

The early Christian Church was one of the resources studied by Lenin developed his thinking on political organization. The Roman Empire never knew what hit them...

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff on Leninism and the early Church. While not completely on point, this amazing image on the relationship between Nazism and the Catholic Church might be of interest here: