Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Let the judicial system do its work

By Ku Chung-hwa 顧忠華

On Sunday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) spoke directly to the public in a televised speech in response to the indictments of first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and three presidential advisers.

In his defense, Chen pointed to the differing accounting requirements of the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics and the National Audit Office. While he admitted that were indeed flaws in the state affairs fund's related reimbursement process, he insisted that it was both impossible and unnecessary for him to practice graft, and that he had absolutely not done so.

Throughout his speech, Chen repeatedly stressed that he had been wronged, saying that he could not disclose the details of where the money went to protect those who were carrying out secret diplomatic missions for the nation.

He also expressed his great disappointment with the prosecutor's decision to expose certain pieces of classified information.

Chen reiterated he had given much thought to the matter and placed the highest importance on the nation's interests and security.

He also said that he would immediately step down if his wife was found guilty of corruption and forgery.

The question now is whether the pan-blue camp and the red-clad followers of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) will accept Chen's request that the courts decide whether or not he should step down.

Following the corruption scandal that surrounded Chen Che-nan (陳哲男), the former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general, and the insider trading case involving the president's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), the arguments of those who oppose President Chen have focused on morality. I wonder if those opposed to the president possess the moral rectitude to step back and allow the judicial system to perform its function.

Since the pan-blue camp has announced plans to launch a third recall motion against the president and the DPP has candidates running in the mayoral elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung, I wonder if the DPP leadership will support the president until the end of the first lady's trial.

I can imagine that, given the standoff between the pan-blue and pan-green camps, those who believe in the president will do so to the bitter end. Those who do not believe in him now will never do so and will only regard his public appeal as procrastination.

The anti-Chen camp's emphasis on applying so-called moral standards is no more than their way of applying partisan pressure.

The nation's legal system -- a system that has made systematic gains in credibility since the transfer of power from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to the DPP in 2000 -- is the proper mechanism for handling disputes such as those now surrounding the president. This is an unexpected fruit of Taiwan's democratization process.

If the calls for high moral standards and the push to oust Chen fails, Taiwan clearly would have left its days of strong-man rule behind in favor of trust in the democratic system.

Ku Chung-hwa is a professor of sociology at National Chengchi University.

Translated by Daniel Cheng

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