Shooting was clearly a hoax
\nThe assassination attempt is filled with inconsistencies and flaws if one looks at it step by step. The claim is that Chen, while standing in a moving jeep rallying a crowd, was shot in the stomach by a bullet through the front windshield. The same bullet then struck Lu, who was standing to the right of Chen [from the perspective of cameras in front of the jeep], on the knee.
\nLet's break this chain of actions down by following the movement of the bullet: A bullet shot from the attacker's rifle broke through the front windshield of the jeep and hit Chen's stomach. The same bullet then made a right turn, cut across Chen's stomach and hit Lu on her right knee. Unless this bullet is remote controlled, I do not see how any bullet can make turns at will.
\nSeveral inconsistencies are also revealed through the surveillance camera in the hospital that Chen and Lu were rushed to. First, Chen and Lu were seen walking into the hospital minutes after being shot. The key word here is walking. If I had just been shot in the stomach or in the knee, I would at least be slightly crouched and limping. But no, the camera reveals they were both walking normally.
\nSecond, if my country's president and vice president had just been shot in an assassination attempt, they would be rolled into the hospital on a stretcher or in a wheelchair or at least on [crutches]. But no, they walked in normally like all the other people around them.
\nThat same night, after winning the election, they both appeared on TV cheering, clapping, raising their arms high in victory gestures, walking about rallying the crowd and giving bows to their supporters.
\nLet's use our common sense here. This chain of events all happened within one day. If any one of us had just been shot in our stomach or knee that afternoon, we would not have the capability to perform the above physical movements.
\nYes, Chen and Lu have won the election, but the Taiwanese people have lost. They have voted for a man that has and will continue to use their naivete and trust for his own agenda. The independence that Chen promised them will never come to pass.
\nStop the conspiracy drivel
\nThe controversy over [the March 19 shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮)] is both depressing and bemusing. It's depressing because it seems fueled by an almost "ethnic" distrust between the pan-blue and pan-green camps. It's bemusing because the "conspiracy theory" behind it is so ridiculously implausible.
\nConsider the problem of how to "stage" an assassination attempt.
\nA few minutes of thought is enough to reveal a dozen ways to do it more convincingly than what actually happened. The most obvious flaw is Chen's wound. It strains credulity that anyone trying to fake a wound would make a 15cm gash instead of a 9mm hole.
\nFor that matter, why bother injuring yourself? If you want to fake a shooting, just wait until after the parade and put a couple of bullet holes in the jeep (put them in the inside panels, out of view from the cameras). Then the next day you can "discover" the bullet holes and notify the press.
\n[On the evening of March 20], after the elections, I sat with friends discussing these events, and between us, we worked out an explanation for the shooting which satisfied the known facts.
\nWe did this because we simply couldn't believe that anyone deliberately trying to "stage" an assassination could possibly have come up with the [March 19] scenario. On Sunday, the Criminal Investigation Bureau announced the exact same explanation.
\nThe shooter was on the right side as the jeep went past and he or she got off two shots. The first was from a frontal angle and went through the windshield. Because of the shallow angle between the path of the bullet and the plane of the windshield, the compressive resistance of the glass sheet came into play (imagine the difference between jumping through a plate glass window and falling on a "knife-edge" of glass). This was enough to divert the bullet down and to the right, toward Lu's knee.
\nKnowing he or she had missed with the first shot, and having only a few more seconds of opportunity, the shooter waited until Chen was directly in front of him or her for the second shot. And if he or she had aimed just [a few centimeters] to the left -- a matter of a few degrees of angle, at that range -- Taiwan might well have witnessed its first successful assassination.
\nScientists can determine, from the shape of the hole and the characteristics of the glass, the most likely trajectory of the bullet.
\nThis information, coupled with copious videotape of the event, will in time yield many clues about the case.
\nThe pan-blue camp may nitpick over details of the ballot recount (though, for my part, I can't understand their objection to amending the election laws to codify the criteria for recounts). But it's time to put this absurd "conspiracy theory" about the shooting to rest.
\nPan-blues dislike democracy
\nIn regard to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance's reaction to the election result, it is worth noting elections in other countries and the light that these cast on the KMT's understanding of democracy.
\nThe most recent comparison is to the general election in Spain in the wake of the Madrid bombing. Hundreds of people were killed or injured in Madrid three days before a general election which the pro-Iraq war government, led by the Popular Party, was expected to win. After the bombing it didn't turn out like that. That is simply the way it is; people voted as they saw fit.
\nSimilarly, Israel lost a strong and trusted leader working for peace when former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in November 1995. Shimon Peres, seen as too "dovish," and without the military experience of the former general Rabin, took over the leadership of the Labor Party and became prime minister. Six months later he lost a general election that Rabin may well have won. Labor lost power in part because Rabin was shot (and his successor didn't carry the same trust).
\nIt is neither fair nor unfair to the parties involved -- just unlucky for the loser that "events, dear boy" (in the words of former British prime minister Harold Macmillan) turned against them.
\nThere are many variables in democratic elections, some of which are beyond the control of the participants. The participants simply have to accept the results. In the absence of evidence that Chen either had himself shot or faked it -- a somewhat outrageous suggestion -- any effect the assassination attempt had must simply be accepted. Perhaps the pan-blues will have better luck next time.
\nThe reaction of former US vice president Al Gore to the 2000 election in the US is a worthy case study. Gore rightly challenged the result and a tortuously long battle was entered into. He had a strong legal and moral case until the end, particularly given the manipulation of the Florida courts by Florida Governor Jeb Bush's administration, but when the US Supreme Court ultimately ruled against him, Gore conceded with dignity, saying that he believed its decision was wrong but he had reached the end of the road and respected the due process of the law.
\nA further comparison can be made regarding disputed election results in Winchester in the UK general election of 1997, which saw the Labour Party swept to power in a landslide. Winchester had been a "true-blue" Conservative parliamentary constituency for as long as anyone could remember, one of their safest seats in Parliament. The major challenger to the Conservative member of parliament Gerry Malone was the Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten. There were various irregularities with the election, including some disputed votes and a spoiler candidate standing as a "Top Choice Liberal Democrat" who "stole" up to 600 votes from the real Liberal Democrats.
\nAfter several recounts on election night Oaten was elected by a margin of two votes. The defeated Conservative went to court and the judge ruled that there should be a by-election several months later. The people of Winchester did not react well to a bad loser. In the by-election Oaten was returned with a thumping majority of 21,000 votes, a humiliating defeat for Malone. Malone had felt the seat was his right. The people of Winchester thought differently.
\nThe above examples, when looked at alongside the pan-blue camp's reaction to the election result, illustrate the fact that they basically do not understand or appreciate democracy. For KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), it really is the end if they don't win. And there are very serious issues [of survival] for the KMT and PFP themselves.
\nThe problems of the UK's Conservative Party in the wake of the 1997 election stem in part from its [inability to believe that it had lost]. For six years following its defeat it was more interested in fighting itself than fighting the government. That was after 18 years in power. The KMT had 50 years of nearly absolute power. Despite the closeness of the election, the KMT has a long road to travel before it will be in a fit state to meaningfully contribute to Taiwanese politics.
\nChina's future, here and now
\nThe winning party in the presidential election represents the green bud of democracy in China, the losers the dead wood of a China up against democracy. Historically China has not been about democracy, but raw power -- at whatever cost.
\nIn the last US presidential election, there was a real question of who won. Gore received the most votes. There was a problem with ballots in Florida. Yet Gore conceded graciously to US President George W. Bush -- and thus averted a constitutional crisis.
\nThe behavior of the KMT is the opposite. They would rip Taiwan apart to get power. Democracy was fine with them so long as it was just puppet theater. But [when confronted with] a democracy that's real, they cry foul.
\nGranted, these people are past masters when it comes to foul play -- after half a century of rigged elections, phoney ballots, bought votes, imprisoned opponents and shut-down newspapers. I don't think anybody questions the KMT's expertise in this area. It's their audacity that shocks, and their poor sportsmanship.
\nWe see here, played out in advance in Taiwan, what is going to happen in China. There will be a fight between freedom and power. What we see in this election is the test run. That's why it's so important we get it right here, now. It's not just about this nation's future. It's about China's. It's not just about an election. It's about democracy.
\nThe KMT can kick and they can scream but they can't turn back history. Neither can China.
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