Thursday, September 03, 2009

Sentence Parsing

It was a week of convictions here in Taiwan, with the KMT meting out...well, justice probably isn't the right word...

First up, the story that got missed: KNN reports that General Yuan Shiao-lung received a heavy sentence for allegedly bribing a con man NT$6 million. All he bought was ten years in the slammer. Yuan was one of a number of generals who rose during the Chen years to be caught up in such scandals -- critics allege that the KMT simply wants to make a clean sweep of everyone promoted under Chen.

Yesterday the Taipei Times reported that former President Chen Shui-bian's wife got sentenced to merely a year which turns out to be community service....
Although they do not qualify for a scheme that lets those convicted to terms of six months or less pay a fine rather than serve jail time, they will be able to take advantage of a new program that allows convicts to do community service rather than go to jail.

Former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), convicted for instigating perjury, received a one-year jail sentence, which was half the sentence following commutation.

As the former first family committed perjury before April 24, 2007, and because the offenses they committed were eligible for commutation, they met the requirements of the 2007 Sentence Commutation (罪犯減刑條例) and had their sentences reduced by half.
The best they can do is a year for perjury? This sentence appears to be more or less an admission that they don't have anything on Wu. It is difficult to see what this portends for the case of Chen Shui-bian....the KMT has already indicated, with the totally unnecessary detentions and the replacement of a judge who ruled in a way the KMT didn't like, that Chen is to be destroyed.

Many thanks to all who have spoken out on these cases and on the judicial processes here, from Ma mentor Jerome Cohen, who has written several towering missives in influential international publications, to the scholars who have signed four open letters to the Ma Administration, to the locals who have fought the good fight. It is impossible to know for certain, but it is hard to imagine they didn't have an effect.

From the political standpoint, the key case in that pile yesterday wasn't actually Wu, whose conviction was a foregone conclusion, and whose reputation has already been comprehensively smeared, but rather that of Diana Chen....
Diana Chen received the full sentence of one year and six months because she committed perjury after Apr. 24, 2007, and therefore did not qualify for a reduced sentence. Her refusal to admit to the charges against her in exchange for a lighter sentence also resulted in her receiving a longer prison sentence than the others.

Prosecutors said she purposely gave false testimony during questioning last year about the former first family’s alleged money-­laundering activities. They also said Diana Chen bribed the former first lady with NT$10 million (US$300,000) to obtain her position as chairwoman of Taipei Financial Center Corp.
Chen, who is smart, competent, and totally hot (more info + pic), will do a year and six months because she insisted she was innocent. While prosecutors alleged she bribed Wu, bribery is difficult to prove and prosecutors apparently had to settle for perjury. The point of the case was apparently not to win, but simply to smear Chen and move her out of her then-current position as Chair of the Taipei Financial Center Corp, a position Someone Connected apparently wanted. The China Post lays out some of the ins-and-outs of the case, yet another involving the Koo family, in this article. Chen has already said that she will go into politics on the DPP side once she serves her sentence. ADDED: As a commenter below reminds, the other reason they went after Diana Chen was because she was a big donor to the DPP. That sends a signal to other businesspeople about which party they should be donating to.
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Anonymous said...

They are going after Diane Chen because they want to scare everyone away from donating to the DPP. See, the normal thing to do in a case like this would be to enact campaign finance reform legislation. But that would be positive long term change, and the KMT can't have that happening can it...

Robert Scott Kelly said...

Don't know about that. The Control Yuan issued a report on political contributions yesterday and the DPP topped the list at $600m to the KMT's 578m.

Dixteel said...

When you replace a hot woman with an ugly suasage as the chairman of Taipei 101, that is just wrong. WRONG, I said.

阿牛 said...

Question: Is Wu's sentence actually light for the charges? My wife seems to indicate that from what she's seen, it is relatively heavy. There ought to be easy access to precedents on this to compare with.

Nathan said...

Thank you for the analysis.
I just reposted this article to my blog, and made some Han(Chinese) notes.

Tim Maddog said...

Michael, you wrote:
- - -
Chen, who is smart, competent, and totally hot (more info + pic), will do a year and six months because she insisted she was innocent.
- - -

In other words, since she, Wu Shu-jen, Chen Chih-chung, Huang Jui-ching, Chen Hsing-yu, and Chao Chien-ming didn't give testimony which matched the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) distorted imaginings, they call that "perjury."

It's truly a "2+2=5" world in the heads of the KMT and their supporters. (Watch the scene, even if you think you remember it. Yep, Room "101.")

Tim Maddog

Tim Maddog said...

Just checked out the barcode link. That reminds me: I own a Tatung paper shredder which has a "471" barcode on the box. That same box also indicates that it was made in China, unfortunately. [image link]

It's more likely that the "471" designation is for Taiwanese companies, even when their factories are in the "C[死]國" (台語發音).

Tim Maddog

HeiShouDang 黑手黨 said...

Only sentences of six months or less qualify for community service. As such only the kids qualify, Wu and Diana Chen don't.

Michael Turton said...

Robert, I was going to blog on that too. I think it's a case of the DPP reporting all/most of its donations, and the KMT reporting some/few of its donations.

Dixteel, you are so right. Diana Chen can chair my financial corporation any time she likes.

I think the issue with Wu's sentence lightness is that she was basically caricatured as the Queen of Evil. I've also heard that because of her physical handicaps they didn't want the expense of housing her for the long-term.

Chen Shui-bian is doomed, though.

Taiwan Echo said...

Just yesterday, 3 of Ma Ying-jeou's employees who committed the forgery to help Mayor Ma to channel the mayor's special funds were pardoned with a "non-indictment".

馬特別費案/北市府三出納 緩起訴

Readin said...

I'm curious - how do most Taiwanese feel about Chen's trial and conviction?

Chen seems to have been erratic, at one point admitting to the charges if I understand correctly.

On the other hand, the erratic behavior could be explained in part by his incarceration and treatment by the authorities. (He seems to be a weak-minded and inconsistent man compared to other national politicians.) And certainly the circumstances of his incarceration should cause concern. And then a very serious matter that seems to get little attention is the prosecution of the attorney who attempted to prosecute Ma for corruption.

Yet even in the pro-Taiwan Taipei Times I read very little of public outrage about the apparent attempt by the KMT to use the judicial yuan to turn Taiwan into a Singapore-style state where democracy is formally practiced but where people who get too popular or cross the ruling party find themselves facing trumped up charges.

I keep wondering how the Taiwanese are reacting. Has anyone seen any polling? Does anyone know what is going on in people's heads? Where are the protests?

Robert Scott Kelly said...

Michael, you wrote:

"The best they can do is a year for perjury? This sentence appears to be more or less an admission that they don't have anything on Wu."

But Wu is still facing other charges. This was just the trial for perjury. I know the local media have been pretty crappy in their coverage but the BBC explained it clearly:

"The verdict is the first in a string of corruption-related cases against the couple, their relatives and associates...Wu Shu-chen faces further charges in the coming weeks, and the verdict for the case against her husband is due on 11 September."

Michael Turton said...

Yes, I'm curious to see what will happen to her for the other charges...

I wish we could meet in person. Aaargh.