Tue, Dec 16, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Ma mental block impeding parole

By Lee Hsiao-feng 李筱峰

My elder brother, Robert Lee (李席舟), returned from the US to vote in the Nov. 29 elections. Before polling day, he took the opportunity to visit former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in Taichung Prison. Robert noticed that while Chen was talking, his hands were shaking and he was wetting himself. He said it was hard to bear such a sorry sight.

Even if Chen has done some things wrong, is it really necessary to treat a former president in such a manner? No convicted former head of state anywhere in the world has ever been tormented like this. Never mind that medical specialists from Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taichung Veterans General Hospital and many others have been recommending for a long time that Chen should be given medical parole.

However, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) remains unmoved. When he is dealing with corporate bosses or the Chinese government, Ma is as meek and gentle as a lamb, but when it comes to keeping Chen in jail, he has a will of steel and a heart of stone. Will Chen ever get out of prison? A word from Ma could make it happen.

The heavy defeat that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) suffered in the elections was a vote of no-confidence in Ma’s administration and the China-friendly and corporate-friendly policies that it has been pursuing over the last few years. Citizens used their ballot to strike back against the KMT’s politico-corporate complex and settle accounts for sore points like soaring gasoline and electricity prices, a cross-strait service trade agreement that was negotiated behind closed doors and the adulterated cooking oil scandals.

Now that the KMT has lost so badly, Ma is calling for reforms, but, just like the question of Chen’s release from jail, whether reforms will actually happen depends on what Ma decides. Is he going to go on doing as he thinks fit, or will he start respecting public opinion?

The issue of whether Chen should be released can be taken as a litmus test of Ma’s state of mind, and it can answer the question of whether he will respect public opinion and get serious about reform.

Two years ago, I wrote an article in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) analyzing the psychology that drives Ma to keep tormenting Chen. I wrote then that Ma’s mentality is one of loathing and vengeance. I went on to apply psychoanalytical theory to explain that Ma’s torment of Chen is a kind of psychological projection. He is projecting his own corruption, or that of his party, onto Chen.

Jailing and tormenting Chen is a way of washing away the stains on his own record and that of his party while spattering those stains onto his opponents.

What other reasons might Ma have for not releasing Chen? Is it in order to fight corruption? That pretext has already been exposed as fraudulent.

Close associates handpicked by Ma to work alongside him, such as former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) and former Taipei city councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如), have both been revealed to be experts at soliciting bribes. How much more corrupt can you get? There have been countless corruption cases in KMT-ruled cities and counties.

Are those responsible not all people whom Ma had previously endorsed? What about all the politicians and businesspeople who have stripped Taiwan of assets to the tune of hundreds of billions of New Taiwan dollars, but remain at large, as free as a bird? Are they not mostly important associates of the KMT? Is the adulterated cooking oil churned out by the KMT’s politico-corporate complex not an exemplary product of greed and corruption?

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