Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 8 News List

All aboard,all aboard the scandal bandwagon

By Ku Er-Teh 顧爾德

Since the 2004 presidential election and the election-eve assassination attempt on the head of state, the phrase "two bullets" has sparked furious and partisan debate, and for those in the pan-blue camp, it has become synonymous with fabrication and deception.

Unwilling to accept the results of the presidential election, the pan-blues have since refused to place their trust in President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Is there any evidence to indicate that Chen orchestrated the assassination bid himself? As yet, there is not.

However, this has not prevented politicians and the media from forming their own theories about the incident and airing them repeatedly in public in an attempt to give credence to them.

As a result, this issue can no longer be dealt with in a reasonable manner.

The most damaging argument against Chen's version of events is that if the "two bullets" had never existed, the pan-blue camp would most likely have been returned to power.

However, this reasoning alone does not constitute hard evidence.

The sensation surrounding the "two bullets" incident has resulted in our national leader, government officials, legislators as well as most of the media jumping aboard the "scandal" bandwagon.

They have found it is easier to strike a chord with the public by accusing whoever they like of whatever they like, without providing any substantial corroborating evidence.

Recently, Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) accused Deputy Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) of improperly intervening in the construction of a building at Kaohsiung's Fengshan Junior High School.

Afterward, the media continued to pursue the issue by providing irrelevant "evidence" and insinuating that Fan was actually the one "calling the shots" in the ministry.

The incident in which independent Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) accused acting Presidential Office Secretary-General Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) of being involved in insider trading was even more ridiculous, for he divided his "expose" into a number of episodes and aired them on a daily basis as if he were directing a soap opera.

What's more, Chiu's "evidence" could not even establish that Ma was involved in wrongdoing in the first place, let alone that any insider trading had occurred.

As a lawmaker, Chiu could have asked government officials to put the assets in question into trust or called for a public declaration whenever a transaction was made. Either move would surely have won public support.

Clearly, Chiu was not interested in dealing with the facts of the matter or establishing what actually happened -- he was only interested in encouraging the public to imagine the worst.

Having been a participant in the instability that followed the "two bullets" scandal, Chiu knows that the more equivocal the accusation, the more likely the public will believe that it is well-founded.

While there is no smoke without fire, those being accused are not necessarily in the wrong.

And sometimes, we need to take a closer look at the accusers themselves.

The recent flood of accusations has muddled right and wrong and made it impossible to disentangle reasoned debate from sensationalism.

The slander ruling on the "soft coup" case is not enough to turn back this tide. It is more than likely that there will be further such "scandals" in future.

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