Ever since he was taken into custody in December 2008, the Presidential Office has made sure that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) — the nation’s top “troublemaker,” if we believe the propaganda — did not make waves. It did so via a complicit judiciary that time and again denied the former president his freedom by using tenuous claims to justify extensions to his detention, which now approaches 700 days.
Although Chen managed to publish a few books and articles from prison, the government’s efforts to erase him from the political scene were largely successful, an accomplishment that, admittedly, was compounded by a decision by the Democratic Progressive Party — the party Chen once led — to distance itself from him as it sought to reconsolidate after difficult years. By neutralizing the otherwise ostentatious former president, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration paved the way for its controversial rapprochement with Beijing, which, had he been a free man, Chen would surely have relentlessly attacked publicly.
That was until the Taipei District Court on Friday said it had found no evidence proving that Chen and his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), were guilty of corruption and money laundering in a bank merger deal. No sooner had the decision been made than Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) cried foul, prompting officials — with the president in the lead — to sound worryingly like their counterparts across the Taiwan Strait, where, as Richard McGregor writes in The Party, his study of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), “judges must remain loyal — in order — to the Party, the state, the masses and, finally, the law.”
While the “Harvard-educated” Ma reiterated his belief in the inviolability of an independent judiciary, his enthusiasm seemed to collapse once the same judiciary handed down a decision he did not like. This led him and others to engage in vague discussions about the “will” and “expectations” of the people, much as CCP officials tend to arrogate upon themselves the desires of 1.3 billion Chinese.
Only by not “deviating from public expectations,” Ma said, could the judiciary “protect the interests of the good and the honest,” from which remark we can conclude that, in Ma’s view, Chen is neither. So much for the president not commenting upon or taking sides in what remains an ongoing case. Also, as someone who studied law, Ma should know better than to presume someone is guilty before a court has rendered its final judgment.
Furthermore, for someone who has shown such disregard for public opinion in his China policies, only to summon “public expectations” when he runs into trouble, is dishonesty at its most transparent.
Another irony, which is unlikely to be lost on Ma watchers, is that although the KMT sought to smother the Chen story for almost two years, it is now doing an about-face by seeking to maximize publicity over the former president’s supposed ills, which will culminate with a Nov. 21 rally in support of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) where “anti-corruption” will figure prominently. Everyone knows that despite a recent string of accusations of corruption within his administration, the message will not be directed at Hau, but rather Chen, which constitutes another attempt by the KMT to use national politics for good effect in the Nov. 27 local elections.
The ghost of Chen, long locked in a crypt in Tucheng City (土城), Taipei County, is being resuscitated not by his supporters, but by the very party that wants him forgotten. Thus, the lingering power of the former president, who, though locked in his cell, has once again become involved in politics — this time without having to say a single word.
An outrageous dismissal of the exemplary Taiwanese fight against COVID-19 has been perpetrated by the EU. There is no excuse. I presume that everyone who reads the Taipei Times knows that the EU has excluded Taiwan from its so-called “safe list,” which permits citizens unhindered travel to and from the countries of the EU. As the EU does not feel that it needs to explain the character of this exclusive list, perhaps we should examine it ourselves in some detail. There are 14 nations on the list that have been chosen as safe countries of origin and safe countries of destination for
Filmmakers in Taiwan used to struggle when it came to telling a story that could resonate internationally. Things started to change when the 2017 drama series The Teenage Psychic (通靈少女), a collaboration between HBO Asia and Taiwanese Public Television Service (PTS), became a huge hit not just locally, but also internationally. The coming-of-age story was adapted from the 2013 PTS-produced short film The Busy Young Psychic (神算). Entirely filmed in Taiwan, the Mandarin-language series even made it on HBO’s streaming platforms in the US. It is proof that a well-told Taiwanese story can absolutely win the hearts and minds of hard-to-please
Drugged with sedatives, handcuffed and wearing a bright orange prison tunic, British fraud investigator and former journalist Peter Humphrey was escorted by warders into an interrogation room filled with reporters, locked inside a steel cage and fastened to a metal “tiger chair.” Humphrey recalls: “I was completely surrounded by officers, dazed, manacled and with cameras pointing at me through the bars. I was fighting for my life like a caged animal. It was horrifying.” Footage from the interrogation was later artfully edited to give the appearance of a confession and broadcast on Chinese state media. While this might sound like an
The US House of Representatives on July 1 passed by unanimous consent a bipartisan bill that would penalize Chinese officials who implement Beijing’s new national security legislation in Hong Kong, as well as banks that do business with them. The following day, the US Senate unanimously passed the bill, which was later sent to the White House, where it awaits US President Donald Trump’s signature. The bill does not spell out what the sanctions would look like and Trump has yet to sign it into law, but Reuters on Thursday last week reported that five major Chinese state lenders are considering