Fri, Dec 23, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Pan-blue camp fuels the Wu charade

It is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at the antics of would-be Taitung County commissioner Wu Chun-li (吳俊立). It is disheartening that Wu, a man convicted of corruption, received the kind of support that he did in the local government elections.

Because of the conviction, Wu knew he would be suspended immediately after taking his oath of office. So he turned his defiance of the local government into a farce of comical proportions, "divorcing" his wife in an effort to circumvent the legal restrictions on appointing a spouse or relative as his deputy.

The legality of this maneuver is in question, and Wu may have broken the law by faking a divorce. And it seems unlikely that he will be successful in exploiting a loophole allowing him to run for the county commissioner's post again in a by-election.

Nevertheless, a group of pan-blue legislators yesterday declared their support for Wu after he came to Taipei and made an appearance at the Legislative Yuan.

The pan-blue parties can be relied on to oppose anything the government proposes, so this is hardly a surprise. But it is still a mistake. These legislators are feeding the perception that, in his standoff with the government, it is Wu that is the victim. But he is not.

The real victims in this case are the people of Taitung and the rule of law.

Wu was convicted before an independent and impartial court. He had every opportunity to defend himself during the trial, and can still appeal.

So why, then, is the pan-blue camp so willing to support this man? Is it asserting that the nation's entire criminal justice system is a sham?

Apparently not. The pan-blue camp's membership has been perfectly willing to go to the courts whenever they feel slighted, as we saw with former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) libel case against the president, or the myriad attempts to challenge the validity of last year's presidential election. And they are enthusiastic about trying to drag pan-green figures before the courts on corruption charges.

Where, in all this hypocritical muckraking, is "Mr. Clean," KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)? Why won't he take this opportunity to say that he is against corruption, even as his party benefits from it?

This situation is emblematic of the current political stalemate. At the point in the development of a democracy when leadership and foresight are most required, none is to be found. Few politicians, in either camp, seem to understand that there are times when partisan wrangling only weakens the political system, with everyone coming out the loser.

The pan-blue camp, and Wu himself, have cited his performance at the polls as justification for giving him a "second chance." The reasoning appears to be that because he is popular, it does not matter if he is corrupt. This is a very dangerous mentality, but unsurprising for the KMT, with its lengthy record of authoritarian rule.

Still, no one has offered a convincing argument why there is a danger in letting the law take its course in the case of the Taitung County commissionership. If a by-election were held and Wu were not allowed to run, it is likely that a pan-blue candidate would again win. There is absolutely no reason, other than spite, to oppose the government on this matter. If Wu has been wronged in the courts, then let him declare this on appeal.

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