When the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office investigated the corruption charges against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), it left no stone unturned, whether in connection to Chen’s overseas assets or over the allegations of graft in the land deal in Longtan Township (龍潭), Taoyuan County, for which Chen was sentenced to 11 years in prison after being convicted by the Supreme Court in November 2010. Investigators looked everywhere they could think of to make sure that Chen would not be able to hide any possible corruption.
However, the handling of the probe into the corruption claims surrounding former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) thus far casts doubt on whether the SID will be able to maintain its credibility because many important people — officials from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the government — who may be connected to the case are disappearing from the division’s investigation list.
Judging from Lin’s political background and network, it is highly unlikely that he will only have been involved in a single corruption case. Common sense dictates that government and party leaders as well as other elected representatives were also probably key players in this case.
However, until today, with the exception of Lin and members of his family, nobody else from the KMT or the government has been subpoenaed and questioned, not to mention having court orders issued against them to ascertain evidence. Furthermore, thanks to cooperation between political forces and the media, the Lin case has already been clearly divided into a judicial and a political issue.
When Lin’s mother appeared carrying a bag full of cash, several dramatic aspects were added to the case as reports about money being burnt and the ashes being flushed down the toilet began surfacing. The Lin family brought in the money and cooperated with investigators partly in an attempt to get bail for Lin, partly because they had no choice. The direction the SID’s investigation has taken gives the impression that it is a bit too worried about investigating top party and government officials.
For example, the question of whether Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) was involved in the affair is a huge issue. In a situation like this, it is inevitable that politicians will start attacking each other and defending themselves.
If the SID decides to treat all this as merely political bickering and therefore does not investigate these people, it is demonstrating “political sensitivity” of a kind that judicial personnel should not possess.
In the fight against corruption, everyone must be held up to the same standards. One may hold differing opinions of the way the SID carried out its investigation of Chen, but no one is opposed to the idea that all aspects of any case should be thoroughly and swiftly investigated and clarified.
If one now looks at how the Lin investigation is being conducted, the indictment clearly states that the SID does not have to conduct a “special investigation,” but only a “normal” one, in its attempt to probe the actions of top party and government officials and expose corruption, thus dragging the judiciary’s authority and prestige through the mud.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should not make the mistake of thinking that simply because he used his chairmanship to expel Lin from the party that people will pat him on the back and thank him for all the great reforms he has implemented.