Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday lambasted the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for waging a political vendetta against him and members of the former government, saying that democracy and the rule of law had regressed to the dark age of the Martial Law era.
“I am here solemnly protesting,” he said in a statement read by Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), editor-in-chief of Contemporary Magazine, at an international press conference in Taipei. “My protests and accusations are not just for my own benefit ... but for the sake of Taiwan's freedom, democracy, human rights, justice and its independence.”
Chen denied any wrongdoing in his statement yesterday. He said his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), had wired leftover election funds to overseas accounts without his knowledge, but denied it was dirty money.
Yesterday's press conference attracted some Chen supporters who chanted “release A-bian [Chen's nickname],” “A-bian innocent” and “political persecution,” and held banners that read “Taiwanese are not Chinese, just like Americans are not Englishmen” and “Taiwan jiayou.”
“I believe the verdict in my case has long been reached in advance and that my sentence has already been determined because it is not really up to the prosecutors and judges who are merely following orders to make such decisions,” Chen said in the statement.
Conducting more judicial proceedings would not hide the fact that the government is waging a political vendetta against its political opponents, his statement said, adding that the Ma administration was using its campaign against corruption as a cover-up to smear and vilify the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for promoting Taiwan-centered consciousness.
“I may be the first person persecuted, but I believe I will not be the last one,” Chen said.
The former president said that a new authoritarian regime was taking shape, and with the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) one-party rule working in consonance with the Chinese Communist Party, Taiwan's judiciary had become a tool for political suppression and persecution.
He criticized the Ma administration for leaning heavily on China in exchange for small favors, adding that after the KMT returned to power, it launched a relentless campaign to “purge and cleanse” the former DPP administration.
The best example, he said, was their decision to handcuff him, hold him incommunicado and isolate him from the world soon after Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visited Taiwan.
He said he was willing to put his political donations under public scrutiny, but the same standards must apply to all politicians, including the KMT's dubious assets.
Chen was first detained last November and released in December. He was detained again and has remained in custody since Dec. 30. Chen was indicted for money laundering, accepting bribes, forgery and embezzling NT$15 million (US$450,000) during his presidency. His wife was charged with corruption and forgery in connection with Chen's use of a special presidential fund known as the “state affairs fund.”
At a separate setting yesterday, the DPP slammed prosecutors for delaying their investigations into KMT officials' use of their special allowances. DPP legislators filed lawsuits in May 2007 with the Supreme Prosecutors' Office, accusing 97 KMT officials — including Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) — of misusing their special allowances during their tenure as public officials.