Thu, Sep 21, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan's color-coded view of corruption

By Jerome Keating

In most places in the world, corruption is corruption, but in Taiwan it is different.

There is OK corruption and not OK corruption. It all depends on the color of the party you support, at least according to former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) current protest and Taiwan's pan-blue dominated media.

In Taiwan, pan-blue corruption is OK, but suspected pan-green corruption means President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should step down. Logical? Not quite, but logic may be a bit too much to expect from the pan-blue politicians, party members and the "red ants" following Shih.

Let's look at some examples. Start with none other than Mr Clean himself, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Ma has finally admitted that the KMT illegitimately acquired state assets when it took custodianship of Taiwan from the Japanese after World War II.

Ma has not apologized for this, but while admitting it might give a negative impression he explained, "It happened during a special period so there's no point in being too critical about it."

A "special period," ah yes, that means the period when the KMT controlled a one-party state and took what it wanted. If anyone resisted, protested, or objected they were either killed or imprisoned on Green Island. No, there is no point in being too critical about that.

The profits from using these state assets went into KMT hands and turned many party members into tycoons. Some of the assets have been sold, however. Was that money returned to the people? No, you see it had to be used to pay KMT pensions and other personnel fees, so that is OK.

As for KMT candidates, Ma has repeatedly supported those convicted of crimes of vote-buying and other, shall we say, "misdemeanors." Ma wants to run for president to succeed President Chen, but all the above is pan-blue corruption so it is OK.

Then there is James Soong (宋楚瑜), who may or may not be running for Taipei mayor. He rode behind Shih in the protest parade on Friday night and speaks often on why he should be elected and why Chen should step down. As one of the tycoons who benefited from the stolen assets and past KMT selective largesse, Soong has already been convicted of tax evasion. He has a minimum of five houses in the US and numerous stuffed bank accounts -- but that is OK, because that is pan-blue corruption.

Shih Ming-teh is not running for office now, and though he has not had a job for ages, Shih has been on the pan-blue welfare line for some time. He most recently flew to Thailand to meet Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪), a Taiwanese fugitive who ran off with Tuntex company funds, left huge debt behind and now hides out in and supports Communist China. All this makes Shih qualified to lead the anti-Chen campaign because this is pan-blue corruption and it is OK.

Then there is Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), the KMT candidate for mayor of Taipei. He also spoke at the protest rally on why Chen should step down because his son-in-law is under indictment for insider trading. The fact that Hau's father, Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), has been implicated in the Lafayette frigate scandal involving hundreds of millions of US dollars and murder, is different. That is pan-blue corruption and does not count.

This brings us back to Chen. Chen is not accused of any crimes himself, but as was said, his son-in-law has been indicted for insider trading. Chen's wife has also been questioned about alleged wrongdoing involving Sogo and Hyatt Regency coupons and vouchers. This is potential pan-green corruption so the president must step down.

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