Sunday saw President Chen Shui-bian (
Only the president and the first lady know whether they are innocent of the charges, but unless they reveal concrete evidence supporting the use of the "state affairs fund," then doubt will remain in the minds of even the most ardent pan-green supporters.
According to Chen, however, exposing the details of the fund's expenditure would endanger the life of Taiwanese agents and that is the reason he remains unwilling to say any more.
While Sunday's speech may have helped pan-green supporters understand the difficult position that Chen says he is in, it is clear that whatever he said would never be enough to placate his political foes. There are sections of the opposition that have been determined to oust Chen since day one of his presidency and now they have their best opportunity.
The current split in the pan-blue/red camp over the Taipei mayoral campaign and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (
If the opposition decides to initiate its third recall motion, this will present the biggest immediate threat to Chen. Even though the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) seems determined to stick with him, if the Taiwan Solidarity Union and just 12 DPP lawmakers decide to break ranks and side with the opposition, this would spell the end of his presidency.
Nevertheless, Chen's position is an extremely problematic one, as whatever choice he makes will do serious harm to the nation's democratic development and localization movement.
If he decides to stay on, survives the recall bid and carries on with his duties until the first lady's trial, he will probably scupper any hope the DPP have for next month's mayoral elections. In addition, we can look forward to several more months of political showboating and legislative deadlock, although the truth is that this would have been the case regardless of the prosecutor's findings.
In the long term, Chen's decision to hang on to office will hurt the DPP and possibly affect the party's candidate for the 2008 presidential election, as the pan-blues will exploit the situation to taint the DPP as a party that approves of corruption.
But stepping down before any trial would be akin to admitting his family's guilt. Chen would, to use his words, be committing "political suicide." He would also deal a huge victory to the pro-China camp, as it would be a surrender to the pan-blue media's war of attrition and their long-standing campaign to deal a fatal blow to both Chen and the localization movement.
On the other hand, stepping down would put the onus on the pan-blues to work with the new government, and if they refused to do so, then the public would once again see that the last six years of pan-blue obstructionism has had nothing to do with who was occupying the presidency.
It is 16 months until the next presidential election and tough times and tough decisions lie ahead. But, 16 months is a long time in politics and memories in Taiwan are unbelievably short.
How else could people believe that the pan-blue camp is the answer to Taiwan's corruption woes?
As Taiwan strives to attract more international students, yet another embarrassing incident of mistreatment came to light this week. The incident, involving students from Uganda, is yet another blemish on the nation’s human rights record, which is otherwise progressive. Online media firm The Reporter wrote in an investigative report that Ugandan students at Chung Chou University of Science and Technology in Changhua County’s Yuanlin City (員林) were denied promised scholarships and forced to work overnight factory shifts after they had been promised “paid internship opportunities.” There were also few classes in English compared with what was advertised, students said. Like many migrant workers
Once a month, a government vehicle pulls up outside Government House, the official residence of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), and an official from the Treasury Bureau alights to deliver a case laden with wads of Hong Kong dollar bank notes. Like the godfather of a mafia organization, Lam stockpiles her monthly salary in cash at her home. This is because Lam, who earns an annual salary of HK$5.2 million (US$667,517) and is one of the world’s highest-paid leaders, has no bank account. After Lam colluded with Beijing to impose a new National Security Law on the territory in
The Nicaraguan government’s decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing and the subsequent developments in that country reignited discussion about the true value of Taiwanese allies. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s regime giving only two weeks to Taiwanese diplomats to leave the country, followed by the seizing of the former Taiwanese embassy and diplomatic offices to give them to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), shows just how desperate Managua is to obtain financial support from the Chinese government. This paints a bleak picture of how meaningful the diplomatic alliances that Taiwan has around the world really are. The assets in Nicaragua
US-China relations are built on a series of fabrications about Taiwan. In fact, one of the major reasons the US-China relationship is so contentious right now is that Chinese belligerence is exposing these carefully constructed fictions to common sense. Readers know the story. In the 1970s and 1980s, American officials said what they needed to make common cause with Beijing vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Diplomats couldn’t talk about Taiwan as a “country” — let alone an independent one — which it so clearly is. They enshrined in US policy that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there