Fri, Nov 09, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Gangsters, gangsters everywhere

One of the most reputation-ruining sights Taiwan can offer is a gangster funeral. Attended by hundreds of black-shirted young men and senior politicians from both ideological camps, these events prove that democratic accountability and social standards don't mean the same thing to all people.

What makes the funeral of Chen Chi-li (陳啟禮) noteworthy is that this Bamboo Union icon was a textbook example of a criminal employed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in years gone by to intimidate and kill dissidents and anyone else who dared stand up to the dictatorship of the Chiang family and their goons.

He wasn't just a standover man taking protection money from street vendors; he was a tool of state oppression. But the revisionism in the print and broadcast media in recent weeks has portrayed this thug as close to heroic; a man who died in exile in Cambodia, far from family and friends. At the same time, no one weeps for the man he killed, Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) biographer Henry Liu (江南).

In the course of mourning Chen, the sight of a string of celebrities, ne'er-do-well politicians and retired security agency officials lining up to pay their dues played itself out. Of the former, pop singer Jay Chou (周杰倫) was the most conspicuous, and he has gutted his reputation -- and raised questions about who he owes and how much -- by paying his respects. Chou should be ashamed, but we are not sure if he has the depth of character to feel it.

But it is the politicians -- and their seniority -- that should be of enduring concern. How astonished and enraged Americans would be if House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the organizing committee for the funeral of a notorious mafia boss. Yet that is exactly what has happened here: Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of the KMT blessed Chen by having his name added to the list of honorary funeral officials. Again, one might ask, what does Wang owe, and to whom?

The KMT, it seems, can't get by without cavorting with criminals.

But this is not a partisan cancer. Even more despicable is the presence on the honorary list of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus convener Ko Chien-ming (柯建銘), who warrants expulsion from the party. We're not holding our breath.

Ko's presence is revolting because he trivializes the sacrifice of Henry Liu, who allowed people like him the freedom to represent the DPP.

This easy association with criminality continues to plague the legislature, too, with an attempt to restrict candidates for public office to people with no criminal record or a minor criminal record being defeated in recent days.

Both parties have acted shamefully and shamelessly on this matter. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), as chairman of the DPP, deserves censure for not intervening to ensure that DPP support for the changes did not eventuate.

And Wang Jin-pyng deserves an equally strong rebuke for blithely dismissing this debacle as being worthy of any concern.

KMT politicians who attack the president and his family for alleged illegal conduct while saying and doing nothing about legislative misconduct are damned hypocrites. Likewise, DPP politicians that complain of judicial persecution of the president while saying and doing nothing about legislative mischief -- or its protection -- lack all credibility.

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