The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leadership has finally taken action, demanding that former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) judicial rights be respected.
In New York and Los Angeles, a dozen Taiwanese groups recently held concurrent press conferences, initiating a yellow-ribbon campaign for Chen.
This is a US tradition through which people remember and campaign for the release of prisoners of war.
By wearing yellow ribbons, these Taiwanese Americans were showing their concern for the former president’s judicial rights.
While many overseas Taiwanese were unable to make their minds up when allegations of Chen’s corruption first surfaced, they are now massively in support of protecting his judicial rights.
Judging from reactions at speeches I have given in Taiwanese communities in several US cities recently, most audience members are angry at President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government over Chen’s long detention.
Their strong reaction has at least three main causes.
First, a just trial can only take place in a fair judicial environment.
But the media has been reporting the details of Chen’s case right from the start, prompting the public to find him guilty before the trial is over.
Later, the judge presiding over his case was suddenly replaced, suspects were detained to extract confessions and the trial record was manipulated. In this highly unfair judicial environment, a just trial is impossible.
Despite the prosecutors’ many charges, a just trial is possible only in a fair judicial environment, no matter how serious the charges against Chen.
The government is guilty of illegal detention, an improper change of judge and the falsification of trial records.
Under these circumstances, it is not possible to truly investigate whether Chen is guilty of corruption.
The sequence should be to first guarantee his judicial rights and then proceed with the trial on the premise of a just judicial environment protected by the judicial system.
Second, the negative consequences of the government’s power abuse are much more serious than individual corruption.
I have repeatedly emphasized this concept in my newspaper articles.
In all societies that have suffered under dictatorship, people are indifferent to their personal rights because they are accustomed to the government’s abuse of power and they have become able to endure it.
At the moment, the government’s abuse of judicial rights is obvious and rampant.
Even the pro-blue Chinese-language China Times has published an editorial saying that Chen’s long detention may damage democracy and the rule of law.
If the government can trample on the former president’s judicial rights today, it can do the same thing to anyone tomorrow.
Some say that the judiciary is not only unfair to Chen alone and that we should call for fair prosecution of all cases. Certainly, we must safeguard every individual’s human rights, but it goes without saying that celebrity cases usually attract more attention and have a greater influence.
This is why the media invited medical experts to discuss cardiac disease after Michael Jackson’s death, although countless people die of heart disease every day.
Third, the government is becoming more arrogant. This is frightening when we look to Taiwan’s future. Most pan-green camp supporters feel that Chen’s long detention is political retaliation by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that is meant to destroy the green camp’s morale and crack down on Taiwanese independence.
In addition, Ma has filed a lawsuit against prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen (侯寬仁) accusing him of forgery during his investigation of Ma’s handling of his special allowance fund.
Meanwhile, first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) has filed a lawsuit against political commentator Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒) and some others for allegedly defaming her.
The blatant arrogance of the incumbent president and his wife in suing private citizens is making a growing number Taiwanese feel ill at ease, especially after a group of Taiwan experts in the West repeatedly petitioned the government to demand that Chen be given his judicial rights, and after the government ignored criticism by Ma’s law professor and mentor Jerome Cohen of the current situation in several newspaper articles.
How can we not worry about the consequences when such a government is in total control of Taiwan?
Even at a time when Ma’s government is treating the cases of alleged corruption against Chen as political, some in the pan-green camp still treat them as a judicial issue.
Perhaps some of them are politically unwise because of their own blind spots, and perhaps some have other motivations.
The pan-green camp’s understanding of the CCP, the KMT and Chen’s corruption trial is directly related to the nation’s future.
It is difficult to imagine the negative consequences of any mistaken decisions.
Cao Changqing is a freelance journalist based in the US.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Burger King Taiwan on Wednesday last week posted an update on Facebook advertising a new “Wuhan pneumonia” (武漢肺炎) home delivery meal, catering to customers hankering for a Whopper, but who wished to avoid visiting one of its outlets. “Wuhan pneumonia” is the term commonly used in Taiwan to describe COVID-19. Beijing has been waging an extensive propaganda campaign against the use of the words “Wuhan” or “China” in reference to the novel coronavirus, calling it racist and discriminatory. Meanwhile, Chinese officials have claimed that the coronavirus might have originated in the US. The intention is obvious: to distract attention from the Chinese Communist