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Nov 27

Remember the adage: “never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence”?

Written by DJ on Thursday, November 27th, 2008 at 7:37 am
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In keeping with the theme of amusing news, let’s take a look at the translation provided in ESWN of a poem written by Chen Shuibian‘s to his wife from prison, after he was detained for allegedly (with his entire family) laundering bribes and embezzled money worth well north of millions in US dollars. Its literary quality is perhaps best summarized by this response from a well known cultural writer: “What kind of shit is this! Please don’t waste my time. Go waste someone else’s time!” Since then, an interesting conjecture surfaced, that Chen could be trying to sneak hidden instructions out of his prison cell through this poem.

Some people argued that Chen’s quality of writing shouldn’t be this low. This poem could be an attempt to sneak instructions to the outside using some codes. It is pointed out that Chen’s transition to “One after another bucket, the bucket was not enough, so the tea jar will have to do” in the poem is too sudden and unnatural. Accordingly, the word ‘bucket”, which is used to wash stuff, could be constructed to mean how to handle money laundering accounts.

There are also some location names mentioned in the poem that could be pointing to places where accounts are established.

As for my take, I’d rather like to believe Chen is a lousy writer.


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9 Responses to “Remember the adage: “never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence”?”

  1. A-gu Says:

    He’s not exactly a lousy writer, but if these were hidden instructions they probably would have been sent directly to people involved and not sent through the media.

    I attribute the poor quality to his state of mind and health.

  2. chinayouren Says:

    Hi, yeah cool conjecture. It is the kind of thing that will spread like powder on the internet with lots of people trying to guess it. But it makes no sense. They wouldn’t stand a chance against police decoders. Besides, like 1 says, why make it public.

  3. Raj Says:

    He’s not exactly a lousy writer, but if these were hidden instructions they probably would have been sent directly to people involved and not sent through the media.

    Indeed. If it got to the stage where he HAD to communicate this way because his messages were being censored then it really would prove his supporters right that the KMT are backtracking to their Police-state days. If the law is what it should be, he can send any message to anyone.

    I attribute the poor quality to his state of mind and health.

    Agreed.

  4. Glyx Says:

    Chem is Really funny, i love this story.

  5. ChinkTalk Says:

    Sorry to digress from the topic, just wondering if the Chinese police carry guns.

    In Canada, there is much controversy in cops carrying Tasers. And now there is reports that the usually unarmed UK police is considering arming with Tasers.

  6. Wukailong Says:

    @Chinktalk:

    http://zhidao.baidu.com/question/29936876.html

    Quick summary in English: The question is why Chinese policemen in general do _not_ carry guns [so I guess this answers your question], given that in other countries even traffic police do [untrue for most countries, but that’s what it says…]. The answer is that Chinese policemen are not well-behaved enough to have guns, or can’t handle them properly. Some examples are given.

    Note: 50% found the answer acceptable, 50% did not. 🙂

  7. ChinkTalk Says:

    Thanks for the answer, Wukailong.

    I guess what you are saying is that the Chinese police are not well trained enough to be entrusted with carrying firearms. They don’t have the discipline. Given the recent spade of deaths caused by the use of the Taser by Canadian police, it is sufficient to say that the proper training and discipline are essential.

  8. anonymous Says:

    Just found an easier link of EastSouthWestNorth: ESWN.info.

    Chen is now officially prosecuted and we should be able to see the result soon 🙂

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