Letters: Crime and punishment

Wed, Nov 08, 2006 - Page 8

While first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) will face an impartial trial with due process of law, the application of more equitable justice for all remains sorely lacking. There is an even more severe white-collar crime that has yet to be addressed: assets stolen by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) from the citizens of the Republic of China (ROC) during the era when the KMT and the state were one.

Unfortunately, media coverage of a few people's wrongdoings somehow justifies making the pan-blues look like saints. Somehow accusing someone else day and night of wrongdoing grants the accuser the moral high ground even though we all know that certain high-ranking pan-blue politicians do not meet the high moral standards that they impose on others.

Those who are Christians should remember John 7:53 8:11, in which Jesus told the morally arrogant accusers: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

It pains me to see certain members of the pan-blues who set off firecrackers in celebration when the news of the indictment came. It reminds me of Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice who was so determined to get a "pound of flesh" from his rival Antonio.

If the pan-blues were not so obsessive from day one about getting rid of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), I would not mind so much about what is going on right now. However, the pan-blues' obsession reminds me of Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, who was so determined to hunt down the whale that almost his entire crew were killed. What a blessing: this indictment distracts everyone from more critical issues needed for the nation's survival, including the arms budget.

As the obsession to depose Chen continues, the ROC becomes ripe for the picking by the predatory People's Republic of China (PRC). Never mind that the pan-blues try to defend themselves by saying that they are willing to sign a peace treaty with the PRC. Any peace treaty according to Beijing's uncompromising terms will destroy the ROC. The KMT learned that long ago when it tried to negotiate with Mao Zedong (毛澤東) for peace.

Perhaps we should do the following as an exercise to ask ourselves if justice is applied equally to everyone in society.

Have Chen resign, then ask Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) to issue two presidential pardons: one blanket pardon to the KMT for all the assets it has stolen from the people, as well as all crimes that pan-blue leaders have committed that would make them unfit for presidency according to their own definition of morality. Then pardon Chen and his family for their own wrongdoings.

Are both pardons of equal weight? I don't think so.

Allen Chang

Hsinchu

The first lady has been indicted, protests against corruption have increased. The last two years of Chen's second term have been tumultuous. However, instead of giving a clear solution, he chose to look abroad and engage in diplomacy. That gave him dignity as president and it also refocused the media spotlight, which had been concentrating on the corruption scandals.

Chen's diplomacy -- giving aid to less-developed countries -- has helped raise the status of Taiwan and its leaders. And of course, to some extent, it helped the poor. Nevertheless, from a domestic standpoint, it was neither proper nor necessary.

First, Chen's diplomatic efforts were carried out just so he could ignore public opinion.

Second, our relationships with "friendly countries" are always fragile. Whenever China has pressured our "friends," they have betrayed us. Therefore, financial assistance is not workable.

Finally, we cannot be assured that the abundance of financial support really benefited the poor in these countries that received aid. On the contrary, it just made us look like a parvenu.

No matter how respectable Chen is abroad, it would be terrible for him to be under unrelenting pressure at home, just like French President Jacques Chirac. In the end, all of us hope for a better future.

Hung Shao-yun

Taichung

Now that the president's wife has been indicted and the president himself also accused of financial impropriety, the president has little option but to resign. As a result, Lu should assume the presidency.

Of course, following this, the pan-blue camp will either find, or more likely, concoct a reason to demand that Lu also resign from the presidency.

Should she also resign, there would be no fully functioning executive, legislature or judiciary, prompting those with vested interests in the north to quickly make a deal with China to turn Taiwan into a semi-autonomous special administrative region of China, headed by an appointed chief executive, in this case the Bei-jing appeaser, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Far fetched? Impossible? This scenario was "predicted" by one of my high school students.

Can I take this as evidence of a growing awareness that the fight for Taiwan as a functioning democratic independent country is possibly in its "end-game" -- a jaundiced and weary public, tired of a media-run politics of style over content may just choose the unthinkable so as to end the harassment of the majority by the vocal minority.

It is also possible, and probable, that the "Taiwan" project is only in it's first stages of development and is merely experiencing some initial rough weather as it beds itself into the collective consciousness.

Whatever the case, the people of Taiwan are fast running out of time and excuses to ignore the willful lack of responsibility, honesty and integrity of their shameless, unaccountable and opportunistic "leaders" on all sides of the spectrum.

Taiwan needs specifically for the US and the EU to recognize that democracy in Taiwan is in trouble and we desperately need their help.

Both the US and the EU need to recognize and state openly that Taiwan is a democracy and one that should be preserved, at all costs (if, that is, they consider it worth the effort). They need to make a unique and valuable offer to Taiwanese that they will recognize the country of "Taiwan" on the condition that the majority of the ROC's citizens vote in an open and fair referendum for independence, a new constitution and name.

Given these two superpowers' tendencies to talk democratically and then act unilaterally, don't hold your breath that this will happen any time soon, or at anytime when it will make a difference -- they are too scared of China.

In the meantime, it is now that the people of Taiwan need to face up to and resolve two essential questions: Given that the ROC is a dying polity, what nationality am I and what country do I want to live in, mine or Chinese President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤)?

Ben Goren

Tainan

The entire first family's indictment reminds me of how I knew that I had been put on the KMT government's blacklist.

When I started my postdoctoral training, I went to the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office to change my visa status because I was no longer a student. Everything went smoothly, but at the last minute, the vice-consulate general came out and asked me what I had done in graduate school; I told him of my studies.

"No, what did you do on campus?" he said.

"What do you want to know?" I asked.

"Anything that you want to tell me," he replied.

I said: "Unless you are specific, I won't know what you mean," to which he replied, "You can tell me by writing it down so that I can issue the visa you need, or I have to ask approval from Taipei."

I thought about it, and for no reason I replied: "You have to be specific. I have been here since 1970, and have not returned to Taiwan; you can ask the police or the FBI for that matter. If they do not have anything on me, I would not know where to start. You do whatever you have to do."

So I walked out with my re-entry permit voided.

A Taiwanese friend told me afterwards, "Fortunately, you did not follow his instructions, or you would have just voluntarily provided him with a written confession."

Many students got into trouble by giving such "confessions."

My perception of Chen's problems is that they started with a search for "receipts" that had not been required of his predecessors. If my reading of the news is correct, almost all the KMT's former officials did not need to provide receipts.

Now the president has to open up the files and to make public the names of those who collected information for Taiwan. China does not have to make any effort to get this list, Chen will have to provide it, either in defense of his family and friends, or in his own defense -- thereby putting those people in danger.

One of the sad things is that some of his comrades are talking about his resignation. For what? For not trying to be a leader like those of the past and saying: "Go to hell, this is my office and I ran it the way my KMT predecessors did."

In the past, the government used "confessions" to trap Taiwanese. Now they use "receipts" or "small favors" for whatever they are worth, including Taiwan's future.

Taiwanese do not even talk about how to stop this discriminatory abuse against a president that we elected. When will the Taiwan-loving people stand up to those who discriminate against the Taiwanese, and say "No more!" It is time to unite again for the good of Taiwan.

Rao Kok-sia

Winchester, Massachusetts

From far away Cape Town, my Taiwanese partner and I watch and have watched with much interest the happenings in Taiwan. We both miss Taiwan very much and do as much as possible to correct the general misunderstandings in the West per se about Taiwan, her history, China's continuous threats and the fact that Taiwan is an independent, democratic country.

It is with great sadness that we hear of the indictment of the first lady and the comment from prosecutors that Chen would also be indicted were he to leave office.

I would suggest, that as Chen has maintained the innocence of himself and his wife, he steps down in the interests of democracy in Taiwan. By so doing, he can call the prosecutor's bluff as he would immediately have to stand trial in open court.

If the president can then emerge unscathed, what would that do to the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) prospects for the next election? Would that not go a long way to negating the spineless jellyfish who poses as Taipei's mayor and the leader of the KMT, and the KMT's ridiculous goings on about corruption?

Many Taiwanese seem to have very short memories concerning the KMT. We need to remember, the KMT ruled for so long with an iron fist, they know all the tricks in the book.

Let Chen stand down in the interests of Taiwan -- and emerge unscathed to fight another day. God forbid that the KMT should get its dirty hands on the levers of power once more. All courage to Chen and his party during this difficult time.

Peter Hodgskin

Cape Town, South Africa