Tuesday, July 05, 2011

L'Affaire Lee Teng-hui Round Up: KMT responds and Other Stuff

As everyone knows, former President, Vice President, Taipei Mayor, and award-winning ag econ scholar Lee Teng-hui, a tower of recent Taiwan history, was indicted last Thursday for abuse of special funds. This resulted in a stream of accusations from the pro-Taiwan side that the move was the result of the KMT's desire to interfere in the elections, tarnish the legacy of Lee Teng-hui, paint all Taiwanese politicians as corrupt, and attack DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen. The Prosecutor's office responded to the charges (KMT news network):
In response to the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU)’s accusation that he had followed instructions from Mainland authorities, Prosecutor General Huang Shih-ming refuted the TSU’s groundless accusation with a rare public response. Huang said that Chen Shui-bian admitted that it was he who had squelched the investigation into the case during his 8-year rule, and even provocatively accused the SIU of “daring to indict him, but not Lee.” Huang said that the SIU now merely allowing the case to “see the light” after it had been squelched by Chen, and argued that the SIU would be deaf and dumb to ignore Chen’s accusations that the SIU did not have the guts to deal with Lee’s case.

Huang Shih-ming stated that politicians should do some soul-searching as to whether or not they had done anything illegal, and should not insist on their innocence by accusing the justice system of political persecution after their indictment. He explained, “The period of election campaigns is not a protective umbrella for politicians. The investigation into the national security confidential fund case had been delayed for 8 years, or are we willing to wait for the statute of limitations in the case to expire, just like the case in which airman Chiang Kuo-ching had been wrongfully indicted and executed for the rape and murder of a 5-year-old girl in 1997?”

Huang Shih-ming said that the SIU was currently investigating other cases involving Lee Teng-hui, adding that the principle for the SIU’s investigation was that if there was no concrete criminal evidence, the SIU would clear Lee’s name as soon as possible, otherwise, he would be indicted accordingly.

Asked about the public’s suspicion that the timing was inappropriate, Huang asked that since Taiwan had an election each year, did that mean that the SIU could not indict any politicians at all?
  • The claim that Chen Shui-bian squashed the case against Lee Teng-hui is contradicted by the internal evidence of Huang in this passage, who also said that Chen accused the SIU of lacking the guts to pursue the case -- meaning that Huang is claiming that Chen accused the SIU of being too chicken to go after Lee when he himself was preventing them from going after Lee. Right.
  • Huang says that the SIU is merely letting the case come to light after Chen had squelched it (the additional political hack on Chen should be obvious). Ma Ying-jeou was inaugurated in May of 2008. Three years have passed. Where has this case been? 
  • Following the pattern in the Chen Shui-bian case, Huang alludes to more charges to come. In the Chen Shui-bian case, charges were piled on, apparently to enhance the appearance of corruption. 
  • Lee is accused of embezzling state affairs funds, the same charge Chen was found innocent of. 
  • Recall that Ma was found "innocent" of embezzling the analogical slush fund for his time as mayor. There was no dispute that Ma downloaded the funds into his private accounts, but this was found to be ok. The DPP and KMT recently agreed to retroactively legalize private use of the special funds that ranking bureaucrats receive, effectively eliminating this threat to all officials but the President, who was specifically exempted from the legislation so that Chen Shui-bian could still be attacked. Essentially Lee is being indicted for doing what Ma Ying-jeou was found innocent of and all other politicians of lower rank have been exempted from.
  • The TSU's bizarre accusation that Huang is a puppet of Beijing may be inspired by the fact that he just got back from an official trip to China. 
  • I have heard that Lee was going to speak at a TSU fundraiser on Friday and announce his support for Tsai. I haven't found any public confirmation of this.
Also indicted with Lee was Liu Tai-ying, who once controlled the KMT assets under Lee. Numerous other politicians are connected to the case -- Jason Hu, the current mayor of Taichung, was Minister of Foreign Affairs during that period, was questioned about it. Liu, eventually jailed on an unrelated charge, also implicated James Soong, originally. The charge was that Liu had used his control over the KMT's business affairs to direct loans and  investments to firms in trouble, and then accepted kickbacks for doing so. China Post has a Who's Who in the case list. And see also this. AP's report on the Lee indictment.

This Lee indictment will not sit well with most groups, but it will make the Deep Blue KMTers who hate Lee passionately quite happy.

Note that the money had to pass through the National Security Bureau. The NSB's chief accountant, General Hsu Ping-chiang was charged in 2003 in connection with these funds and cleared for lack of evidence in 2004. Lee's lawyer claims the SIU prosecutor's office has no new evidence. Hsu was one of a gaggle of retired intelligence officers who visited China earlier this year.

The Taipei Times reported on claims by DPPer Ellen Huang that point out how the KMT is going to try to smear Tsai Ing-wen with this case:
Huang said that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) recently said the charge against Lee would point to Tsai’s involvement in an “816 project” under the secret diplomacy funds from which Lee allegedly embezzled. The 816 project was part of the Mingteh Project (明德專案) focusing on secret diplomacy with the US and Japan. Chiu alleged that Tsai received NT$2.62 million (US$91,147) from the 816 project and passed the money to Yang Chih-heng (楊志恆), who Chiu said was involved in the money-laundering charge against Lee.
Wonderful. The Taipei District Prosecutor's Office, you may recall, is where the prosecutors, including one involved in the Chen case, held that disgusting skit portraying Chen Shui-bian as an AIDS victim, Remember when 8 prosecutors stood and said they would pursue Chen to the bitter end? No bias in this office, no sirree.

Remember when the judge in the Chen case was switched when he ruled in Chen Shui-bian's favor? But there's no bias in the prosecutors, and the judiciary is independent.

I'll leave you with Jerome Cohen's thought on the Chen case, but I suspect it will soon become applicable in the Lee (Tsai-by-proxy) case:
Jerome Cohen, in one of his recent letters, noted that in Chinese jurisprudence the issue is not the legitimacy of the legal process but the guilt or innocence of the accused. The "trial by media" that Chen is undergoing is effective because it appeals to this cultural preference.
Whatever happens, this can only further polarize Taiwan's divided electorate. It presages an ugly, brutal campaign season.
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Anonymous said...

Way to go after that unpopular scoundrel, Lee Teng-hui who shepherded Taiwan Taiwanese society from the ever popular authoritarian rule to the loathsome state of democracy.

Making points with the middle class who benefitted under Lee's reforms.

Michael Le Houllier said...

Very nice synopsis of the situation. I couldn't have expressed it better myself. Nicely done.

StefanMuc said...

This here is bizarre: SIU would be deaf and dumb to ignore Chen’s accusations that the SIU did not have the guts to deal with Lee’s case.

What do Chen's alleged accusations have to do with opening a case against Lee? Chen dared the SIU to go after Lee, so that's why they have to go after him? Are they actually admitting that they act on a dare rather than evidence?

Similarly bizarre the declaration of the Prosecutor General that "Chen [...] squelched the investigation" would mean that politicians can interfere with SIU's operations at any time, they only ever go after whoever is a politically convenient target. Again, that's a strange thing to admit to...

Anonymous said...

This also on Youtube:

Anonymous said...

"As everyone knows, former President, Vice President, Taipei Mayor, and award-winning ag econ scholar Lee Teng-hui, a tower of recent Taiwan history..."

You forgot Governor of Taiwan Province in your list of Lee Teng hui past positions.

SY said...

Let's not overlook the following facts:

1. When the SIU held a press conference to announce the "prosecution" (read: "persecution") on June 30, 2011, Lee's lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) was disallowed to attend the press conference and was denied access to the information distributed at the press conference. (linked report in Chinese)

2. Ma Ying-Jeou held a two minute long press conference at 4:00pm on July 1, 2011 to claim that he is not behind the persecution.

It was not until ten minutes after Ma's press conference (i.e. at 4:10pm on the same day), did the SIU deliver the indictment document to the accused Lee Teng-Hui. (linked report in Chinese)

3. United Daily (UND) got the indictment document no later than the night of June 29, 2011 and had a 6 page report on the matter before the SIU's press conference on June 30.

It means that Lee could not publically defend himself properly almost two days after the UDN's massive first-impression forming "report", the SIU's public accusation and Ma's press conference.

Don't know if this is all fair (or even legal) according to Taiwan's legal procedures.

Waltzin' Jaloma said...

The Chi・com・post has been after Tsai Ying-wen, saddling her with two counts:
• helping Lee with allegedly siphoning off discretionary funds;
• acting as agent of the US under USMG proxy governing authority CEO Chen.
False accusation covers up Tsai's role in Lee's graft case

My comment:

Once gain, your piece confirms my hunch that the Formosan Japanese are dissuaded from participating in the Chinese exiles’ elections.

And they should be, since no Formosan Japanese has any business involving him/herself in the internal affairs of both an exiled government they host and a governing authority anointed by the main occupying power.

However, I smell a rat when you, weasels, flashed the “reviled obsolete country” name to better brand former president Chen a traitor. A Traitor? For having publicly acknowledged an underling status in the chain of command on US-occupied Japanese Taiwan?

Quit keeping the Formosan Japanese under the delusion that they have a stake in the internal affairs of an exiled/proxy occupier government. And quit usurping an underling status of proxies of the USMG on Japanese Taiwan. Instead, debrief the Formosan Japanese by applying the letter of the TRA.

The US executive has been quietly telling their proxy “governing authorities” to remove all reference to their exiled government. They must remove their flag, pennants and related markings and symbols from US-occupied Japanese Taiwan.

Furthermore, they ought to restrict the use of their exiles’ passport to the Chinese exiles and help the Formosan Japanese recover their legal nationality and their official language. They must also return the properties and financial assets they plundered.

For that rule of law-impaired party of Kleptocrat Moss-Troopers, it is going to be root canal coaxing those acculturated Formosan Japanese into waking up and smelling the coffee after 66 years of nightmares-filled slumber. I sincerely feel for their Chinazi’s pains.

Here’s a hint from Japan-educated Lee’s collection of aphorisms. It boils down to two ideograms.「公私」together separate public and private assets, public and private affairs, exiled government affairs and civilian affairs of US-appointed occupation authorities on Japanese Taiwan.

Fifty years of Japanese rule of law taught the Formosan Japanese through practice those values that are also a cultural heritage the exiles claim to be the standard-bearers of.

It is a wonder how, after sixty-six years of studying overseas「留学」on Japanese Taiwan, the Chinese exiles have remained steadfastly impervious to those moral values.

Those barbaric AQs had laid waste to their motherland. The main occupying power of Japan knew it. And, nevertheless, it allowed them on Japanese Taiwan.

And in the span of two or three generations they have been able to turn the upright Japanese Formosans into acculturated minkuk mongrels. How deeply disturbing!!

Anonymous said...

Again, I would point out the simple fact, if I were a sane KMT political strategist and I could actually control the judisiary branch, prosecuting Lee right now would be the on the "disastor" list and not "strategy to winning" list.

Most active senior member of the KMT is connected to Lee somehow, the "deep blue" branch is fairly small in relative to the total vote bracket in a election where obviously the centric votes count the most. More over, thte supports of PFP or New party were generally those that disliked the Lee era KMT but disliked the DPP just as much, not many had a PERSONAL thing against Lee, they simply did not like the obviously corrupted and staled government with too many old men .

However, we should go back to the obvious facts again that if you lived in Taiwan in the 90s, there should be little doubt that the era was obviously loaded with corruption, Lee was not excluded from the rumor even back then. One of the most problematic is actually that of the Golf Course that poped up in the 90s, it is well known that Lee was an avid fan of golf, and many Golf Courses poped up with very questionable screening during that period and then were legalized with even more question marks.

Michael Turton said...

Anon, the fact that X is bad strategy and extremely stupid doesn't mean that policymakers will not embrace X. The KMT is constantly shooting themselves in the foot with stuff that is easy for outsiders to see is quite stupid -- moving closer to China than necessary, acting like indifferent assholes during Morakot, etc.

I'm getting really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really tired of explaining this over and over, but I will do it one more time:

the issue isn't whether Lee is corrupt. The issue is that only DPP/pro-Taiwan politicians are pursued and apparently for political reasons. Many of the murderers and looters of the martial law era are still alive. The Lafayette mess has never been cleared up. Etc.

So I really don't give a shit whether Lee is guilty or not, because that's not the important issue in this case.