When a double murder took place near Mama Mouth Cafe (媽媽嘴) in New Taipei City in March, the media received much criticism for their speculations about the case as they seemed to be investigating it on behalf of the police. The situation has become even worse in connection to the recent death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), setting off widespread public anger. In addition to the media’s reports and analyses, legislators, Internet users and the public are also participating, even calling for street protests, as if the case is being investigated by the whole public.
Head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), however, has been acting like a bystander or a pundit. Apart from making grand statements about how military officials should not abuse their power, he refused to accept Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu’s (高華柱) resignation, telling him to stay on his post and find the truth. The entire judicial branch, including the Ministry of Justice, prosecutors and investigators, ethics and anti-corruption units as well as the Special Investigation Division, are doing nothing. Meanwhile, Ma himself has been running about to attract votes for his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmanship bid. On July 16, he even sobbed at a rally when Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) appeared to show their support for him. What a creepy scene.
In a high-profile case like this, shouldn’t Ma show his resolution by forming a special investigation team and coordinating the related government agencies to handle it in response to the public’s and the Hung family’s calls? Can the military judicial system handle it by itself? The military’s own investigation will only relieve public pressure temporarily, and even if it solves the case eventually, the public will not believe it.
It has been almost two weeks since Hung was abused to death, just three days before his demobilization earlier this month, and the public is furious because the truth remains uncovered. We are also displeased with the chaotic punishment of military officials and investigative procrastination. The military should have detained all the suspects, such as Colonel Ho Chiang-chung (何江忠), vice commander of the army’s 542nd Brigade, long ago. Why was Ho not detained until two weeks later?
And how about other suspects? Are they involved in other irregularities, or even a criminal organization? What was the cause of Hung’s death? Who saw him got sunstroke but refused to help? Who bullied him?
Unfortunately, the military has failed to answer these questions clearly. The situation is becoming increasingly unclear, and the case has exposed a series of military irregularities, severely frustrating the military’s image and morale. This is a major issue that threatens to shake the nation’s foundations, and it really should be more important than Ma’s chairmanship bid.
Besides, Ma is the only candidate running for the KMT chairmanship. No matter how many votes he receives, he will have lost more than he won if he loses public support due to Hung’s death. Hopefully, Ma will wake up and start making a difference in this case.
Lu I-ming is a former publisher and president of the Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News.
Translated by Eddy Chang