Taiwan as the World Turns: the KMT and Gangsters, a Past that Won't Go Away

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Saturday January 22, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

The investigation into the shooting of Sean Lien this past election eve is proving to raise more questions than it is answering. With contradictory claims and accusations as well as questionable methods, Taiwan finds that once again the tawdry and murky world of the relations between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and gangsters is not a thing of the past by any means. This is so despite the thin veneer of respectability with which Ma Ying-jeou always attempts to cloak his party.

First there is the question of which KMT official the alleged shooter Lin Cheng-wei (AKA Horse Face) wanted to get in an apparent gangster deal gone wrong. Was it KMT Sean Lien or KMT city council candidate Chen Hung-yuan? Put differently, which KMT member was in bed with the gangsters this time?

Lin claims his quarrel was with candidate Chen's father over pay-offs that were not honored. Sean Lien however claims the opposite. Lin wanted to get him though he offers no specific explanation as to what kind of gangster deal gone wrong or motive would be so great that gangsters would want to take on the son of the former and now honorary KMT Chairman Lien Chan. The prosecutors appear to be following the belief that Lin spoke correctly, but Chen and his father claim they have never had anything to do with Lin.

For those that have watched the footage, other questions arise. How could Lin get so close to Sean Lien and still miss? Why did the gun misfire before a second shot was gotten off? All that Lien seems to have gotten is a superficial face wound and he was out of the hospital and recovering in record time. Further, with the shooting taking place on a public stage, the shooter would know that he had no way of escaping. Why then did he risk it? Was the whole thing staged? Almost as if on cue, at other election eve rallies, the KMT stalwarts were immediately calling for sympathy with Sean Lien and that voters should oppose violence supposedly suggesting that they vote for KMT candidates.

Both Lien and Chen for different reasons are claiming that they are persecuted; that it all was a set-up, but a set-up by whom? These two KMT members claim to want a deeper investigation. Here they should be careful of the ground on which they are treading and what this may reveal.

Those with any memory will recall the case of Kuo Kuan-ying the KMT stalwart who boasted about being a high class mainlander in comparison to the low class Taiwanese taibazi. He was the one who said that the Taiwanese should be happy that the KMT forced their "culture" on them. After he was accused of racism unbefitting a public official, Kuo tried to salvage his reputation that he was an honorable man by referencing the KMT hit on Henry Liu Yi-liang in Daly City, California. He said that as a point of honor, he privately told Henry Liu's widow that she need not worry about KMT hit men because the hit had nothing to do with her family but was as a KMT warning to others.

What Kuo did not realize as he sought to defend himself, was that he also was revealing that even low level Government Information Office (GIO) officials as he was at the time (1980s) were totally aware of KMT sanctioned hit squads. So if Lien and Chen are serious when they claim that they want the police to press further in this potentially staged shooting, they may get their wish and more may be revealed than what they bargained for.