Justice for Chen
I visited former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at the Tucheng Detention Center on the morning of Nov. 11. I only learned about the Supreme Court upholding his conviction on bribery charges after I came home. I felt deeply sorry and sad.
The next day, many journalists came to ask me — the landlord of Chen’s liaison office — about my feelings about his conviction. A few days earlier, Chen had been found innocent in another case involving the second round of banking and financial reforms. I did not expect that just a few days later, he would be sentenced to such heavy penalties — a combined 19 years in prison (Editor’s note: The Taiwan High Court on Monday set the prison term at 17-and-a-half years.) Someone pointed out later that there are problems with the legal basis of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said that this decision serves as a warning to civil servants. I believe a civil servant is responsible for being clean and Ma should act as a good model. It would have been more effective if you communicated and gave warnings in the beginning, instead of waiting until Chen was found guilty.
Let us not forget that there was also a major scandal when Ma was mayor of Taipei. Ma’s subordinate became a scapegoat in that case. Chen, a Taiwanese president and a lawyer, should recognize the importance of honesty for a civil servant.
My late husband served in the civil services of Japan, the Republic of China and the US. He had a very clear picture of the civil service system, and therefore he was very cautious about his conduct. We all know that when there are privileged classes within the civil service system, it is very easy to pick on somebody else.
As described in Nien Cheng’s (鄭念) book Life and Death in Shanghai, Cheng was taken away by the Chinese Communist Party even though he did not commit any crime. The Communist Party tried every means to frame him and sentenced him to six years in prison. We are also familiar with the Lafayette military procurement scandal, but why has the truth not been revealed yet? Obviously, “if you deliberately want to frame someone, you can always find an excuse.” Based on these cases, you can see if our justice system is reliable and fair or not.
A notable international law scholar, Shigeru Oda, also a judge of 27 years in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands (including 12 years as vice president), was a high school and college classmate of my late husband. Oda told me, and wrote in the preface of the Chinese version of Taiwan Witnessed a Century how Ma had visited him in the mid-1990s on his way to The Hague and talked about the vision of the “new Taiwanese” and that “Taiwan belongs to the people of Taiwan.” He was confident and looked forward to seeing this vision realized by Ma as president. This would also be a dream come true for Taiwanese. However, Oda would be very surprised and sad if he heard the news about Chen’s verdict.
I remember Ma once saying: “We want to see Chen die in a very shameful way.” Ma, has your dream come true yet? You are very pleased, but I am very sad. Humble senior citizens like me would like to speak out and voice our concerns as such.
YANG LIU HSIU-HWA
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