EDITORIAL: Probe seems like bad soap opera

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 - Page 8

Nearly one month into the investigation of a corruption scandal surrounding former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世), the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office has managed to sway even the most optimistic, who, having misplaced their trust in the nation’s judiciary, are now starting to doubt the impartiality of the investigation apparatus.

For the many skeptics, disappointment understates a sense of anger that brews within as they see how the SID has, with its glaring double standards and snail’s pace investigation, seemingly proved to the public again that it is not color blind when it comes to cases involving politicians.

In December last year, amid the brouhaha over allegations of irregularities involving then-Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) role in a biotechnology company, State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming (黃世銘) asserted: “There’s not one case that the SID dares not investigate.” Revisiting Huang’s statement now, as the public takes note of the SID’s dawdling in the case implicating high-ranking officials from the pan-blue camp, many cannot help but wonder whether Huang’s remarks were really only meant for cases involving pan-green politicians.

Many have their reasons to doubt that the probe into the Lin case, which has been dragged out for weeks now, is thorough. A number of key individuals, such as Lin’s father, Lin Hsien-pao (林仙保) — whose voice was heard in the recording of a conversation between Lin Yi-shih and Ti Yung Co owner Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥), apparently negotiating a 2010 bribe to secure a metal recycling contract from state-controlled China Steel Corp (CSC) — and CSC chairman Tsou Juo-chi (鄒若齊) — whose return to the company in 2010 after he retired in 2002 broke not only the company’s unwritten rules, but also raised eyebrows given the coincidence of the timing — remain unquestioned.

Any investigation should not be rushed and vigilance is key, but by the slow pace at which the SID is moving in the Lin case, it is almost like saying to all related parties: “Hey, guys, better get your accounts in order before you are summoned for questioning.”

Meanwhile, like a bad soap opera, over the past weeks the public has been treated to almost daily episodes in which Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) denies rumors implicating him and his sister-in-law Hau Ying-chiao (郝英嬌) in the alleged corruption.

In a recent survey conducted by the Taiwan Thinktank, 64.4 percent of respondents questioned Wu’s claim of innocence, while only 15.4 percent said they believed him.

No one likes to be wronged for something they did not do and if the vice president is innocent, as he claims he is, then rather than passively responding to daily media inquiries following the latest allegation against him or his relatives, Wu should consider holding a press conference and, once and for all, set the record straight. Better yet, Wu should take the initiative and report to the SID himself and let the judiciary do its job and prove him innocent — if indeed he has been wrongly accused.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), meanwhile, should not be sniggering in the corner grateful that someone else is taking the heat for a change. As a responsible leader, he should also take the initiative and offer a clear account on the allegations concerning his deputy.

After all, how is he expected to lead the nation when his right-hand man is embroiled daily in corruption allegations?