The indictment of first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) on corruption and forgery charges in connection with the handling of the president's state affairs fund has sent a political shockwave throughout the country.
President Chen Shui-bian (
Wu has come under fire since May over a spate of allegations ranging from political improprieties to financial irregularities.
Although last month she was cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with Sogo Department Store's controversial transfer of operational control, her indictment on corruption and forgery charges on Friday raises the issue of the first lady's place in governmental affairs.
Wu, who has charmed the public with her down-to-earth straightforwardness, was considered a political asset when Chen was elected to the presidency in 2000.
She has since turned into a liability for Chen, however, with some criticizing her for having too much influence on policy.
It is an open secret that the couple disagreed over the replacement of then Tainan County commissioner Mark Chen (
President Chen had originally planned to recruit Mark Chen to head the National Science Council.
While President Chen had wanted Mark Chen's deputy to take over the commissioners' position left vacant, Wu preferred Su Huan-chih (
Mark Chen later turned down the offer and decided to complete his term.
In a phone interview with the Taipei Times yesterday, Su said he believed Wu is innocent, taking into account Wu's family background.
Born into a well-off family in Madou (麻豆), Tainan County, in 1952, Wu did not know her life would change so dramatically after she started dating Chen in college.
Despite her family's objections, Wu married the then impoverished Chen in February 1975.
While the couple thought they would live a peaceful life with Chen practicing law, the 1979 "Kaohsiung Incident" altered their destiny and changed the course of Taiwan's democracy movement.
Wu encouraged Chen to commit himself to Taiwan's democratic development and supported his volunteering to defend Huang Hsin-chieh (
Chen Shui-bian quit his law practice to enter politics in 1981 when he was elected as a Taipei City councilor.
In 1985, Chen Shui-bian lost a Tainan County commissioner election and shortly thereafter Wu was paralyzed from the waist down after being repeatedly run over by a truck in an assassination attempt whose perpetrator was never found.
In 1986, not long after Wu was discharged from hospital and at a time when she desperately needed the support of her family, Chen Shui-bian was sentenced to a year in prison for libel for publishing an article in the pro-democracy Formosa magazine in which he claimed that later New Party lawmaker Elmer Feng's (
That same year, Wu ran in the legislative election and won. When Chen Shui-bian was released in February 1987, he served as Wu's legislative assistant until he himself was elected as a legislator in 1989.
Describing Wu as a direct, passionate and optimistic woman, DPP Legislator Lan Mei-chin (
"I'm sure she knows where to draw the line," she said.
Lan is the wife of former national policy adviser to the President Huang Tien-fu (
Lan has developed a close relationship with Wu since both of their husbands were sent to jail in 1986.
Lan said she was most impressed by Wu's courage in the face of illness.
"I remember one time after her tragic accident, she told me not to cry when I saw how she suffered," Lan said.
Former senior adviser to the president Wu Li-pei (
CAMBODIAN CON: The two men filmed videos with made-up content with a focus on purported human trafficking, beatings and sexual assaults by scammers Cambodian authorities yesterday sentenced two Taiwanese to two years in prison and a NT$30,000 fine each for staging a kidnapping in the southern coastal city of Sihanoukville which they live streamed online. Chen Neng-chuan (陳能釧), 31, and Lu Tsu-hsien (魯祖顯), 34, were convicted of inciting and causing social disorder a day after Cambodian police officials convened a news conference about their arrest. Chen, who goes by the online name “Goodnight Chicken” (晚安小雞), and Lu, known by the handle “Anow” (阿鬧), must each pay 4 million riels (US$982), according to a court filing. The court said the duo arrived in the Cambodian capital, Phnom
TAKE PRECAUTIONS: Never hike alone and prepare food, water and appropriate equipment for Taiwan’s mountains, particularly in the winter, officials said Two mountain hikers were rescued yesterday, a day after a body was airlifted out of Yushan National Park, one of several deaths related to mountaineering or hiking in the past two weeks, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday. A Nantou County mountain rescue team called for a helicopter while responding to a call yesterday morning. They said a woman surnamed Chen (陳), 31, and a man surnamed Lin (林), 32, got lost in the mountains around the Batongguan Historic Trail (八通關古道), while traveling west toward Dongpu Township (東埔). They were directed to a nearby alpine meadow, where the helicopter landed with four
‘CORRECT CALL’: The navy said the captain was right to send crew out to fix an issue with a buoy, and that the buckles connecting two of them to the safety line came loose Equipment and environmental reasons, not human error, were to blame for the loss of three submariners on Dec. 21 last year, the navy said yesterday. The navy would not punish any of the Hai Hu’s (海虎) crew after an investigation determined that the captain was correct in sending crew to retrieve a safety buoy, it said in a news release. Three crew members — a master chief petty officer surnamed Lin (林) and two petty officers surnamed Yen (顏) and Chang (張) — are still unaccounted for after being swept from the submarine’s deck by a wave while trying to retrieve the
Individual tourists who arrive in Taiwan from tomorrow are eligible to receive limited-edition lucky bags to mark the Lantern Festival, Tourism Administration officials said yesterday. The Lantern Festival-themed lucky bags each contain a Year of the Dragon red envelope, a mini lantern, a NT$300 coupon for an amusement park ticket and a NT$500 Taiwan PASS coupon, the officials said. To get a lucky bag, visitors must present a passport or residence certificate and proof of their date of entry at a tourism center at either terminal at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) or Kaohsiung International Airport, they said. The