The public’s eyes widened when former Chung Hsing Bank vice chairman Wang Chih-hsiung (王志雄) was extradited to Taiwan from China last month. No one thought there was any chance that the fugitive tycoon would be caught and returned to Taiwan, but in the end he was, making it clear that the Taiwanese police force remains competent.
However, the case of former Tuntex Group chairman Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪), who was indicted for embezzling NT$31.5 billion (US$1.1 billion), may be a different story altogether. On Nov. 2, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that the fugitive tycoon arrived at a five-star hotel in a Lexus car and acted ostentatiously in Xiamen City in China’s Fujian Province. Approached by the Apple Daily reporter for an interview, Chen reportedly laughed and said that he is on Taiwan’s most-wanted list and so could not be interviewed. This event is enough to punch a big hole in the public’s expectations.
When Chen fled to China in 2003, many people felt that his escape was an inevitable outcome of the whole affair. At the time, nobody dared monitor those heavyweight fugitives and that gave them a lot of room to act recklessly. As the old saying goes: “You reap what you sow.”
Taking a closer look at the Chen case makes it clear that he has been playing games with the Taiwanese government.
First, there is the chaotic relationship between politics and business circles. The complex relationship between Taiwan’s political and business sectors for many years has led many tycoons with political connections to act contemptuously of the law. Especially in the case of tycoons of Chen’s caliber, who have connections with both the pan-blue and the pan-green camps, as nobody wants to cross them. Moreover, whenever he is in need, Chen’s so-called “friends” always come forward to cover for him.
No wonder he can do whatever he wants.
Second, there is the contradictory relationship between the police and prosecutors. Under the current system, there is little cooperation or respect between the police and prosecutors. There is often news about how they fight each other for credit and try to put the blame for failure on each other, and this gives Chen an even better opportunity to escape the “long arm” of the law.
Third, there is the bizarre and changeable cross-strait relationship. On the surface, relations are currently in a state of harmony, with Taiwan and China cooperating with each other both politically and economically. However, there is more competition than there is cooperation and intangible hostility is greater than tangible reciprocity. This allows Chen to switch from one side to the other at will.
After seeing Chen’s arrogance, it seems that the Taiwanese government has shrunk to invisibility in the face of this major economic criminal and also that the cross-strait relationship has to make way for him. This is a humiliation to the nation and the government has to come up with a solution, lest it loses its prestige and credibility completely.
Li Kuan-long is a lecturer at the Kaohsiung Campus of Shih Chien University.
Translated by Eddy Chang