Mon, Nov 06, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Indictments may be used to the DPP's advantage

By Li Hua-chiu 李華球

On Friday, Taipei District prosecutors concluded their investigation into the "State Affairs Fund" case. While it is rewarding to know that the legal system is not frightened of the privileged, can expose corruption and has the confidence of the people, a few points about the case should be considered.

First, although the prosecutors have indicted first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and three presidential aides -- two current and one former -- verdicts in their cases have yet to be handed down.

During the upcoming trials, the process must remain independent and not suffer from political interference. The judicial system should decide the cases based on facts and strict adherence to the law.

The indictments handed out on Friday may have eased the public's concerns about corruption, but if the trials conclude without a concrete decision, the public's trust will be broken.

The announcement of the indictment obviously made some people in the pan-blue camp happy while causing concern in the pan-green camp. Some believe that the indictment will cause a collapse of support for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral and city council elections.

I believe that this is a distinct possibility, and that the indictment will influence voters strongly for the next few days. But Taiwanese voters are forgetful, and there are still 36 days until the elections.

The DPP is excellent at campaigning, and the indictments leave room for DPP candidates to distance themselves from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) if he cannot prove his innocence.

If this were to happen, the DPP could turn the events to its own political advantage. In the Kaohsiung mayoral election, for example, there is an even greater possibility of the indictments producing a cut-off effect whereby the candidates would distance themselves from those indicted, thus improving the DPP's situation.

After the announcement of the indictments, some of the pan-blue legislators and some of the red-clad protesters were obviously excited, because the indictments gave them new confidence after their long-running disappointment at the judiciary's lack of independence.

There are reports that the pan-blues will propose a third recall motion to force Chen out of office. I do not oppose such a move, but the last two recall motions failed and the third attempt could have the same outcome.

If the DPP's power to block the motion and the strength of the undying loyalty of pan-green supporters is underestimated, the third recall will fail as before. If that happens, the pan-blues would not only have lost an opportunity, but they would also have suffered a major setback.

Finally, I believe that although the announcement of the indictments in this case will doubtlessly inspire public confidence in the judiciary, the case must not be used as a tool in the elections lest the pan-blues and pan-greens become even more polarized.

Even though a campaign strategy of pointing out other candidates' links to corrupt officials could help to win an election, it would make any cooperation between the pan-blue and pan-green camps nearly impossible.

If Taiwan's political parties are unable to peacefully coexist on the domestic front, the nation will have great difficulty in its relationships with other countries. This is something that all political parties in Taiwan must consider.

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