One day after the election-eve shooting that left Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Committee member Sean Lien (連勝文) injured and an innocent bystander dead at a Nov. 26 KMT campaign rally, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) branded it an assault on the nation’s democracy and instructed government agencies to exert themselves to crack the case in a timely fashion.
Nearly two weeks have passed since the shooting in Yonghe (永和), Taipei County, and although a suspect was caught with a weapon at the scene, the case remains largely a puzzle. From political conspiracy theories to claims that Lien was shot “by mistake,” the multitude of conflicting accounts from parties involved have led to public confusion and a growing mistrust in law enforcement authorities.
Indeed, given the ramifications of the shooting incident, which took place on the eve of tense special municipality elections and involved a son of a former vice president, one would think law enforcement agencies would have handled the case very carefully. However, the judiciary’s initial laxness — evidenced by the fact that a potential key witness was able to go on a trip to Shanghai after the shooting — was dumbfounding, and the prosecutors’ refusal to make public video shot at the crime scene has further fueled public skepticism.
Citing a gag order, prosecutors have refused to release the video footage, saying that doing so could lead potential witnesses to collaborate on their accounts and compromise the investigation. The prosecutors’ concern is valid, but in view of mounting public suspicion over the authenticity of the shooting, Lien’s wounds and their severity, couldn’t the prosecutors find an alternative — such as showing the video to members of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee — to quell public disbelief? Instead, we saw National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) appearing rather light-hearted as he attempted to explain the shooting to lawmakers on Monday by having a judicial official act as his model as he demonstrated how the shooting occurred.
Given such a high-profile case, the public has the right to be kept abreast of every development in the investigation — and ultimately the truth behind the shooting. Even Lien himself, who has since been recovering steadily and checked out of the hospital on Sunday night, has urged prosecutors to make the tape public to shed light on questions about the shooting.
Many vividly recalled how Ma, shortly after he assumed the presidency in May 2008, pledged to reopen the probe into the March 19, 2004, shooting of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮). Almost three years into his presidency, Ma’s promise remains unfulfilled, while a growing sense of cynicism spreads among the public given the murky details surrounding the 319 shooting.
For the sake of salvaging the Ma government’s credibility, as well as saving the public from its deepening distrust of the law, the authorities should tackle the Lien shooting with due vigilance and swiftness, and do what they are paid to do — let justice be served and expose the truth.
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