Honesty can work wonders
Following Michael Turton’s plea to “focus on urgent issues” (Letters, Dec. 5, page 8), I expect some people would contend that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is the victim of injustice imposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration. Some may also claim it is the resurgence of the “White Terror,” a great conspiracy between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the KMT to deter or humiliate the Taiwanese, or even that Chen “bears the crusade for the sake of Taiwan.”
Alternatively, some would argue that Chen might have committed sins “morally,” but he is innocent “legally.”
Several people have referred to the case of John Edwards, during his US presidential bid, as a precedent.
Edwards was found not guilty on six charges despite his use of campaign donations to hide a pregnant mistress while his wife was battling breast cancer.
Indeed, prosecutorial misconducts or irregularities were rampant during the course of Chen’s trial. In addition, a “not guilty” verdict has been rendered to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) regarding a similar allegation on the “discretionary fund.” One certainly could suspect political interference in Chen’s trials.
Legally speaking, Chen and his supporters have the right to appeal the 18-and-a-half-year sentence. He is also entitled to all basic human rights, including those of a reasonable condition of incarceration and adequate access to the medical care he needs.
That said, Chen is not a pure victim in the whole debacle. He and his family’s indiscretion dragged the pro-Taiwan camp into a bottomless pit; all the momentum gathered toward Taiwan’s independence was squandered after his eight years in office.
Unfortunately, his supporters would even try to explain Chen’s family’s off-shore bank account as the “Nation Building Fund,” asserting it to be a “necessary evil.” It does not take a rocket scientist to see that purchasing a New York City condo for Chen’s son has nothing to do with building the Taiwanese nation.
In contrast to Chen’s situation, when a scandal involving former CIA director David Petraeus broke, he apologized immediately and resigned. Many argued that he did not need to resign since national intelligence had not been compromised with his affair. Some also suspected that Petraeus was the “victim” of some purported conspiracy. Still, Petraeus took full responsibility without blaming others. For that I respect him, even though he clearly has made a huge mistake.
By the same token, Chen will earn more respect if he owns up to his wrongdoings, even if he might not be legally guilty.
Taiwanese are mostly gracious and forgiving. A heartfelt apology would most likely facilitate his own medical parole. Without Chen to serve as the smokescreen for Ma, (or as the ATM referenced by the Taiwanese talking heads), the Ma administration will be forced to face the music, which would be a win-win situation for Taiwan.