Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian, Guilty or Not-Guilty?

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Saturday December 20, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Anyone reading about Taiwan news would know that former president Chen Shui-bian has been accused of just about stealing everything from the Presidential Office kitchen sink to the treasures in the National Palace Museum. Some may wonder where I stand on this. My response is simple; if Chen is guilty of money laundering etc., then I say "hang him high." If not then let's get on with life and face the fact why so many hate not only Chen, but also the reality of Taiwan's sovereignty that he represents. For it is this that inconveniently sticks in their craw and disrupts their profits and sculpted agendas for the world. For sure, Chen has been already, judged and found guilty in the pan-blue media and subsequently hung, drawn and quartered so many times that it is not just de rigueur but the only thing they can think of to print. Innocent until proven guilty? Not in pan-blue Taiwan.

Am I blas? Is there a double standard? Examine the differences in cases between the way people have been treated under President Lee Teng-hui and President Chen Shui-bian and contrast it with the way that they have been treated under President Ma Ying-jeou and you will see the perversion of justice under Ma.

Start with James Soong former Provincial Governor and founder of the People's First Party (PFP). Soong was not only indicted but found guilty of money-laundering; that is guilty with a big capital G, not once, not twice, but three times in the past. Was James Soong ever cuffed and hauled off to jail even before any of his indictments like Chen Shui-bian was? Was Soong ever held in communicado like Chen? Was Soong even jailed after being found guilty each of three times? Not quite, so what horrendous punishment was dealt him? He paid back taxes on undeclared income and went on to visit the many properties he owns in the United States.

Then look at Ma Ying-jeou who was indicted but again never suffered the indignities that Chen Shui-bian did. Was Ma ever cuffed? Was Ma ever held in communicado? No, he was not only allowed to roam free and collude with all his staff etc; he was also allowed to declare his run for the presidency while under indictment. Not bad, not bad at all. Now of course Ma was found not guilty, but what most forget is the fact that his secretary was found guilty of money-laundering and putting over a half a million dollars (US$) into Ma's account. That secretary remains in jail. Ah yes, would that we all had such secretaries willing to take the fall for us.

So when Chen was recently cuffed and taken to jail and held in communicado some six months after he left the presidential office, it takes a real stretch of the imagination to state that justice is equal under Ma Ying-jeou. The prosecutors tried to justify their actions by saying that they were afraid Chen would collude with others and run and had to be kept jailed in secret. But even Ma's former law professor raised the simple objection that these prosecutors had been declaredly after Chen for two years while he was President, and even in the six months after he left the office. If collusion or running was to be done, the horse had already left the barn long before; no Ma's prosecutors seem bent on carrying out their vendetta and would use any means to try to humiliate Chen.

My feelings on Chen therefore, if guilty, "hang him high" or at least give him as equal treatment as James Soong and Ma's secretary. My feelings on Ma Ying-jeou? Will people finally wake up, see through him and smell the coffee laced with vendettas? Fortunately if you look at many of the recent previous postings from international organizations on this site, you will see that this is happening. And you, what about you?