Businessman was wrongfully imprisoned: book

By Su Fu-nan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, staff writer

Fri, Jan 15, 2016 - Page 5

Businessman Wu Chen-jui (吳振瑞) was a victim of politically motivated persecution and wrongful imprisonment, according to a book released on Tuesday by the Pingtung County Government.

Wu, who died in 1993, was a Pingtung native and a former superintendent of the Kaohsiung Fruit Cooperative. He was known for ushering in a period of prosperity for southern fruit planters by exporting bananas to Japan.

In 1969, Wu was accused of corruption for allegedly distributing gold bowls and plates in the so-called “gold bowls” case, and in a second trial was convicted on illegal gold trading charges.

The book The Banana Man: Wu Chen-jui and the Golden Bowl Case (金蕉傳奇:香蕉大王吳振瑞與金碗案的故事), was published by the county thanks to an endowment from the Preparatory Office of the National Human Rights Museum. Written by oral historian Huang Hsu-chu (黃旭初), the book said that the gold bowls case was a miscarriage of justice motivated by political enmity.

“Wu Chen-jui made powerful enemies in the then-Provincial Fruit Export Cooperative by pushing the ‘50-50 plan’ and breaking its monopoly over export license quotas, and those powerful enemies took revenge on him by using trumped-up charges,” said Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), who hosted the book’s launch.

Chiu said it was important for her to help clear Wu Chen-jui’s name, as he was made the superintendent of the fruit cooperative’s Kaohsiung branch on her grandfather Chiu Ching-te’s (邱慶德) recommendation. Chiu Ching-te was a Pingtung mayoral candidate at the time.

“There is no doubt that the ‘banana-peeling’ case was politically motivated,” Pingtung County Cultural Affairs Department Director-General Wu Jin-fa said (吳景發), referring to the media’s rhetoric at the time alleging that the prosecutors were “peeling” the banana trade to get rid of “verminous insects.”