Fri, Dec 10, 2010 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Blind justice or vengeance?

I’m told that many pan-blue supporters these days feel quite comfortable stating out loud that former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) should be made to serve out her sentence in a prison hospital, lest she be “unfairly” treated better than she truly deserves.

Of course, she should be given the same treatment as other felons of similar guilt and medical need, but it appears many members of society won’t feel satisfied unless Wu is punished to the absolute utmost — without, of course, crossing that hazy line into the realm of torture.

It is plain to see the spirit at play here is cold vengeance. Much of the public has been held enchanted in a vengeful frenzy for several years now, ever since accusations of malfeasance against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) first emerged in the early years of his administration.

These feelings peaked after the “bulletgate” re-election when “Chen as Fuhrer of the Third Reich” effigies were paraded “peacefully” around the city center. I think it is fair to say those weeks of black T-shirts (and later, red T-shirts) were an example of mass hysteria.

I talked to people at the time. They just “knew” Chen was guilty of some kind of “dirty tricks.” There was no need for proof or a trial. It was “obvious,” people would tell me.

Then came the long, slogging next four years, with accusation after accusation being hurled at Chen, the pan-blue believers convinced of each until the next one came along. Eventually bits started to stick and the pan-blue believers can rejoice now because the judiciary agrees (usually) that the “shameless” former first couple profited by illegal means to the tune of US$20 million through a shady land deal in Longtan (龍潭) and an influence--peddling scheme that at least one of the two must have been aware of.

Of course, it really isn’t so hard for most people to imagine a president of Taiwan or his wife being somewhat corrupt. You know what they say about power, but back to the vengeance. Are Chen and Wu really being punished to a standard typical of similar white-collar criminals here in Taiwan? How will we ever intensify the punishment a hundredfold when, if ever, former China Rebar Group chairman Wang You-theng (王又曾) is repatriated to serve time for stealing US$2.3 billion from hundreds of identifiable victims?

And I want to ask the pan-blue believers who hope that Wu — herself a victim crippled by a brutal murder attempt that was likely political — dies in a grim prison hospital: How do they feel so certain their own political heroes are untainted by any crimes equal to or worse than Chen and Wu’s? Who among Taiwan’s formerly powerful can easily account for all of their personal wealth?

It is easy to see why Chen’s loyal supporters feel enraged. Justice simply does not appear to be blind in Taiwan.

PETER DEARMAN

Xindian, Taipei County

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