Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Indictments show nation's maturity

The indictment of first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) on charges of embezzlement, forgery and perjury came as a great blow to many of the nation's localization supporters.

After all, they helped President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) win two election campaigns based on a platform of clean government.

The news of Wu's indictment, coupled with the prosecutors naming Chen as a "joint perpetrator" in the embezzlement case, shattered the confidence of many of his key backers.

The indictments came as the "biggest disappointment" that pessimists in the pro-localization regime have ever experienced, with many feeling depressed that Chen's Democratic Progressive Party administration, which marched under a pro-localization banner, was possibly no different to its Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) predecessor, which was notorious for its rampant corruption and money politics.

But for pro-localization optimists, the indictments marked a victory for Taiwan's maturing democracy and a vindication of the independence of its judicial system, which showed that it could withstand political pressure.

Needless to say, the indictments also serve as a sobering example for China, which is dealing with its own corruption problems.

While Chinese officials were busily shaking hands with their African counterparts in Sudan and Zimbabwe over the weekend, Internet users in China were engaging in an enthusiastic discussion, lauding Wu's indictment as a significant development for Taiwan's democracy.

Whether Chen and Wu in fact embezzled money from the "state affairs fund" should now be left for the courts to decide.

While this is going on, localization activists should not lose heart over the nation's quest for a mature democracy. They should remind themselves that a indictment like Wu's would never have been handed down when the KMT was in power.

Thanks to the localization movement, those in power have been held up to public scrutiny.

Thanks to the judicial system, the nation now knows that no matter how high up the ladder someone is, he or she can be held accountable by the public and by the law.

With the latest recall motion initiated by the pan-blue camp, the situation in Taiwan might appear unstable and some may fear for the health of the nation's democratic system.

But people should not despair, and take heart instead in the knowledge that the country's underlying tenacity and respect for the rule of law remain intact.

They should find reassurance in the fact that none of Chen's supporters were seen rushing into the street and starting angry protests against Wu's indictment and that no hysterical leaders from the pan-green camp could be seen making derogatory speeches about the country's judicial system.

The high-profile graft allegations have attracted international attention and the world's eyes are now on Taiwan. The indictments are simply another opportunity for the nation to take the world by surprise by demonstrating the maturity of its democracy.

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