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Sep 12

Chen Shui Bian Gets Life

Written by Allen on Saturday, September 12th, 2009 at 8:51 am
Filed under:-mini-posts, Analysis, General, News, politics | Tags:, , , ,
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In the continuing saga that is Chen Shui Bian’s colorful life, a trial court in Taipei sentenced Chen to life in prison yesterday as the first phase of his dramatic corruption and embezzlement trial came to an end. Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-chen, received a life sentence on corruption charges. Their son and daughter-in-law, convicted of money laundering, received relatively lenient 2 1/2 – and one-year terms.

Chen and his family have been charged with siphoning millions from government funds and for receiving bribes of at least $9 million involving use of  Swiss bank accounts to conceal their crimes. Chen and his family were not cooperative throughout most of the trial, but in the end, too many people stepped forward, and too much evidence were offered.

Chen and many of his supporters continue to hold that Chen is innocent and is a victim of political persecution. For more details on this story see this WSJ report, ATimes report, Time report, SF Chronical report.

What is your opinion of the case?

In the view of Chen’s supporters, this nightmarish trial has always been more about political persecution than anything else. The investigation into Chen’s affairs began almost immediately after Ma came to power and Chen left office. Ma’s administration seemed at times too eager to share documents with the prosecution. For most of this past year, Chen has been inexplicably held in jail even when he had had little hope of escaping.

Politics in Taiwan has always involved various forms of gift giving and favor culling. Rules regarding political expense funds and donations were never very clear. Supporters believe that as the former leader of Taiwan, Chen deserves some deference. Chen is the heart and soul of the Taiwanese independence movement. To hold Chen strictly to the law in a court of law under this context is unfair and smack of political sham.

On the other hand, this case can also be viewed as a seminal moment in Chinese history.

Never in a Chinese society has a leader in as high a position as Chen been brought down so low so fast and through purely legal means. Chinese society had always been ruled by fiat. High ranking leaders were considered above normal laws that were intended to have effect only upon the common people.

Has the rule of law in Taiwan finally developed enough teeth to bite even a president? Has democracy – which would just be mob rule without rule of law – been advanced to the next level in Taiwan?

One thing that has impressed me about this case is how relatively independent the judicial process has been allowed to run its course. There has been no evidence that Ma’s administration – or the KMT dominated legislature – exerted any influence on the judicial process. Ma – a lawyer himself – made sure he himself personally stayed away as far away from the trial as possible.

Even if you believe Chen were a sacrificial lamb – i.e. the only thing Chen did wrong was to get caught – is Chen’s sentence such a bad thing in the big scheme of things?

This trial, if nothing else, has the potential to set a precedence and send a strong message to all future Taiwanese politicians that corruption and embezzlement will no longer be tolerated. All leaders who wish to continue to practice corruption will be doing so taking their own chances.

So – is Chen’s trial a political plot orchestrated by the KMT to sabotage future opposition or is it proof that the rule of law has finally come of age in Taiwan?

Has the law in this case been politicized to strike down a political foe or has it been a tool to fight for justice and good governance?

Should leaders like Chen be given presidential deference … perhaps even a pardon – or should leaders like him be treated like any other common citizen and be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law?

Do you think this case will have a positive effect on governance in Taiwan or will it be business as usual – where those in favor or well connected will remain shielded from the law and where only those politically disfavored will be tried?


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181 Responses to “Chen Shui Bian Gets Life”

  1. Raj Says:

    Allen

    You’re wrong, the investigation didn’t start during Ma’s term in office. Chen was being investigated years ago. When Ma became president, Chen stepped down because his term was up and therefore lost his presidential immunity. The trial itself could only take place then.

    I believe this case shows that the judicial system in Taiwan has the ability to convict a politician of any level. The problem is that this doesn’t mean that it will convict any politician, especially when it comes to party affiliation. It still seems to be heavily biased in favour of the KMT. Ma was charged with a similar crime before the election, but he was never detained and let off not because he hadn’t broken the law but because he had donated money to charity.

    If you look at the evidence, it’s actually fairly weak. One of the charges was to do with a land transaction for a science park. I don’t believe testimony actually showed Chen’s connection to it, just that of his wife. But, with almost all the charges, the prosecutor said “how could Chen not know”. I’m not sure how why husbands are responsible for the crimes of their wives.

    What Chen was guilty of was taking advantage of a big hole in Taiwanese law that allows politicians to deal with surplus campaign funds as they see fit. There were proposals to close this during Chen’s presidencies, but the KMT-controlled legislature strangely cut them all down. So I’m not sure how that’s a crime either, least of all money-laundering. To launder money it has to be obtained illegally, from criminal proceeds, etc. If the law doesn’t say Chen wasn’t entitled to keep it, moving it around can’t possibly be money-laundering.

    Furthermore, the way the case was conducted shows the threat to Taiwanese justice. Chen was long convicted in the court of public opinion because the prosecutors kept leaking information. How can you say the KMT didn’t involve themselves in the case? When the original judge gave Chen bail/released him from detention, the KMT created a ruckus and had that judge removed (even threatened him to be indicted – on what charge, showing sympathy to an enemy of the KMT?) from the case.

    It’s no surprise that the new judge revoked the release and refused any further grounds for release. One reason to not do so included “not co-operating”, which I believe was due to Chen’s hunger strike for the reason that his rights were being broken. During detention his meetings with lawyers were recorded (also leaked to the press?), despite the fact that is illegal. The presiding judge has of course now gone “medieval” on Chen. So even from the start it could be argued that the verdict had been decided.

    This isn’t to say that Chen is innocent. The problem is that if people work to have a case decided in advance then there is no longer any justice. There has to be a presumption of innocence from the court and authorities. This won’t dissuade other people from carrying on “corrupt” activities because they’ll just ensure they are well connected to the KMT.

    I’m sure plenty of people will crow about the result in this case purely because they don’t like Chen’s politics. Do they care about justice in Taiwan? I doubt it.

  2. Raj Says:

    You might find this interesting – it’s one of the pieces I read on the case.

    Guilty by verdict, by not by evidence – Michael Stainton

    On September 11 the Taipei District Court issued a verdict and sentence in the bundle of corruption cases centered on former President Chen Shui-bian and first lady Wu Shu-chen. To the surprise of no one, Judge Tsai Shou-hsun found them guilty on all the charges in the Special Prosecutor’s Office December 2008 bill of indictment, and imposed the maximum penalty. President Chen was sentenced to life imprisonment, permanently stripped of his civil rights, and fined two hundred million NT$ (US$6 million). Wu Shu-chen received the same sentence except she was fined three hundred million. Other accused received far lighter sentences.

    There are actually several cases here. Readers can be forgiven for not wanting to know all the details. But this case should be of concern because it is one more piece of evidence that the process of democratization in Taiwan is being reversed as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) moves this island ever closer mother China, where a trial like that of President Chen would be normal operating procedure. A brief review of the charges, even without recounting the procedural absurdities and injustices which have marred the process, can show why Chen’s lawyers and foreign Taiwan watchers predicted exactly this outcome.

    The first is case is about money laundering. Chen is now convicted of transferring stolen money overseas to avoid detection. However, we still do not know if it was actually stolen. If one has the stamina to read the 202 pages of Chinese in the indictment, one first crawls through some 190 pages detailing a mind-numbing multitude of bank transfers and how Wu Shu-Chen, her children and her brother moved large amounts of cash around the world. In this there is no mention of President Chen being involved. Finally, after the 194th page, the indictment exclaims how could President Chen not have known about all this, and baldly states that he was a knowing and willful co-conspirator. But the only bit of evidence it presents linking Chen to all this is that he once made a phone call to a bank about a problem with one of these accounts. Other evidence of the crimes of President Chen is a brief sermon about how he violated the high principles of his presidential oath of office, and showed a bad and unrepentant attitude by refusing to confess his guilt.

    Moving money around the world is only money laundering if the money is illegally obtained and so needs to be laundered, and here the evidence presented in the indictment is equivocal. Most of the money involved was the surplus from the presidential election campaigns of 2000 and 2004. In Taiwan surplus election funds are the personal property of the candidate, and there are no clear laws on its use or requirements that it be held for future elections. Everyone in Taiwan deplores this situation, but the laws have been kept loose for years precisely to facilitate the KMT’s own use of its own immense resources. Along with most of the other bills the Chen administration presented to the KMT-controlled legislature, attempts at legal reforms were deferred, blocked or mutilated by amendments.

    In several public statements even before he was arrested Chen apologized that he had not acted wisely or transparently in the use of his election funds, but also pleaded that as president he had neither the time nor legal right to be involved in the financial dealings of his family. Wu managed all their money. It is widely known in Taiwan, even among their friends, that Wu loved money and that in recent years her relations with her husband had become strained. Chen claims that when these accusations became news he questioned her about them and that she was less than honest with him, so that he was not in the loop.

    Chen is also accused of misuse of state funds – embezzlement – in relation to the secret foreign affairs and presidential discretionary funds which he used the same way as previous presidents. The difference is that previous presidents were all KMT and so their use did not constitute misuse. More astounding is that the detailed figures of use of these funds and Chen’s bank records gives no evidence that President Chen pocketed any of these monies, but the assumption of guilt was good enough for Judge Tsai.

    The third charge is receiving bribes in the case of land acquisition for a high tech science park, and here it is proved that monetary gifts were given to Mrs. Chen who inserted herself into these negotiations. However, all testimony in this case agreed that President Chen had no involvement in the land negotiations or knowledge of the gift. One could reasonably conclude with the prosecutor “how could he not know”, but this begs the question – your knowledge of the wrongdoing of others is not a basis for finding you guilty of their crime.

    To make this more interesting, there is a very recent precedent in Taiwan of a bribery case involving a senior politician and his wife. In 2006 the magistrate of Hsinchu County, Zheng Yongjin, was convicted of receiving a bribe from a contractor in pursuit of work on a large project. The “moon cake box” case was the subject of much merriment in Taiwan as the contractor (who sang like a birdie once he was arrested) delivered the money as a gift in a box of moon cakes. This was received at the door of their home by the magistrate’s wife. Mr. Zheng continued to serve as magistrate even after his conviction while he appealed. In December 2008 the appeal court found him not guilty because there was no proof that the magistrate himself received the money or knew it was given by the contractor. You might think this would be a precedent in the case against President Chen, but this shows how little you know about the reborn Republic of China’s justice system. Mr. Zheng is a loyal member of the KMT and was convicted while the party was out of power. In December 2008 the KMT was back in power and the party-state was getting back to normal operation.

    In contrast to Magistrate Zheng who continued to administer the affairs of a Hsinchu county as a convicted criminal, President Chen was arrested as soon as the charges against him were laid, on November 11, 2008 and has been detained as a “major felon” ever since. I discovered what this meant in June when I became the first foreigner to visit him. There are three kinds of visiting rooms – the “regular prisoner visiting room” where face to face visits take place, the “special visiting room” where you can sit on a sofa and have tea together. I visited a Columbus Leo, a Taiwanese Canadian charged with the crime of advocating Taiwan independence, in this room in 1990. I saw President Chen in the “major felon visiting room”, a hot stark cell divided by a wall and thick plate glass. You talk through a telephone, controlled and watched by a guard from a glass wall beside you. Chen was also accompanied by a guard in his half of the cell taking notes during our twenty minute visit.

    One might think that the President of the country for 8 years might get the special visiting room, if only for the dignity of the country, but this fails to take account of the fact that Chen was the unabashed President of Taiwan, and we are now back in the old Republic of China, so not the same country. He is getting special treatment though. Even his discussions with his lawyers were recorded (and sometimes leaked) until protests from lawyers associations led the Council of Justices (Taiwan’s equivalent of a Supreme Court) to say this was unconstitutional, but still gave the prosecutors 4 months to clean up its act.

    Chen did apply for release on bail, and this was granted once, on December 13 after the Special Prosecutors Office announced the completion of its investigation. But KMT politicians and media raised such a cry of outrage that three days later the judge who granted him bail was removed from the case (and also threatened with impeachment) and the new judge, Mr. Tsai who has just found him guilty of everything, immediately ordered him detained again on the claim that he might flee the country (this though he is accompanied by an ex-presidential security guard at all times), or seek to cover up evidence (despite the fact that the Special prosecutor’s Office began investigating all these charges in 2006) or that he might collude with others to influence their testimony (despite the completion of the investigation). Another later bail application was denied because Chen had not been “cooperative” with the court.

    There has not been a show trial or a political sentence like this in Taiwan since the 1980 military trials of the Taiwanese opposition after Kaohsiung Incident. Ironically, Chen Shui-bian was one of the defense lawyers in those show trials. Things have come full circle. After two decades of astounding the world with its vibrant democratization and spunky nationalism in the face of Chinese threats, Taiwan is once again the Republic of China. Under the KMT the justice system once again serves the larger interest of the party.

    (Michael Stainton is President of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada)

  3. Allen Says:

    @Raj #1,

    You wrote:

    You’re wrong, the investigation didn’t start during Ma’s term in office. Chen was being investigated years ago. When Ma became president, Chen stepped down because his term was up and therefore lost his presidential immunity. The trial itself could only take place then.

    Yes – you are right. I even agree with you (except that I was wrong part).

    I was only trying to paraphrase what some supporters of Chen are saying. Of course I know people were talking about Chen being corrupt even before he stepped down. But the official legal investigations started in earnest only after Ma got power and Chen stepped down.

    Yes – they couldn’t have started while he was president. But many Chen supporters see this as just a legal technicality. Ma must have been pulling judicial strings in the back after he got into power – to really squeeze Chen after he lost his “immunity” – so the story goes…

  4. Raj Says:

    Allen

    But many Chen supporters see this as just a legal technicality. Ma must have been pulling judicial strings in the back after he got into power – to really squeeze Chen after he lost his “immunity” – so the story goes…

    Is that how the story goes, or is it that people sympathetic to the KMT started the investigation during Chen’s term in office after the KMT were unsuccessful in trying to overturn the result of the 2004 election and subsequently impeach him? I don’t know, but I think you’ll find people felt the KMT were after him even before he’d left office.

    Do you have anything to say about some of the points I raised about the case, such as the KMT getting the judge(s) replaced?

  5. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: I sometimes “get” life, but more often don’t have a clue. :P

    One of Ma’s key Harvard Law School professors/mentors was Jerome Cohen. Since Ma was elected, Cohen has visited him in Taiwan. Cohen talked about the trial most recently after the verdict was announced, and earlier during the trial. He was NOT very complimentary of the way the trial was conducted.

    Here are some excepts from his most recent review:

    If former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) appeals, US legal expert Jerome Cohen said yesterday, he would prefer to see Chen released, as it would be difficult for Chen to build a case while in detention.

    “Every society has to protect human rights. This is a long process and a learning process for Taiwan. It is a very sad day, it is also a very important day,” he told reporters after visiting Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) at the legislature yesterday morning.

    Cohen, who was a mentor to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) when he studied at Harvard Law School, said the Chen case took a long time and that people could learn a lot from it.

    Asked whether it was appropriate for the judge to have been changed half-way through Chen’s trial, Cohen said it would have been reasonable if Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) had taken up and presided over the Taipei District Court’s collegiate panel right from the start.

    Because the judges were changed after the case had started, it was natural that there was public doubt over the matter, he said.

    In December, judges ordered that Chou Chan-chun (周占春), who originally presided over Chen’s case, be replaced by Tsai, who would preside over four cases filed against Chen. The switch was controversial and skeptics questioned the legality of the move and whether it might have been politically motivated.

    “Are we witnessing a reverse justice progress in this case? That is something important that we should observe,” Cohen told the audience. “You need to punish corruption, but you also have to protect human rights.”

    New York University law professor Frank Upham, another participant at the seminar, said that Chen’s case “is a big Broadway production, instead of an off-Broadway show.”

    NTU associate law professor Wang Jaw-perng (王兆鵬) said that the case showed the judiciary’s failure to remain neutral.

    “I would say that this case is a test for Taiwan’s judiciary. And the most important question for this case is: ‘Will Taiwanese people accept the verdict?’” Wang said. “If the judiciary fails, people will not believe in the verdict and that was what happened in the case.”

    And from the earlier January article:

    The Harvard Law School mentor of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that his former student needed to act urgently to prevent an “increasingly disturbing circus atmosphere” from prejudicing his predecessor’s right to a fair trial.

    Jerome Cohen’s comments to The Associated Press follow last week’s biting skit that mocked former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), performed by prosecutors at a dinner celebrating “Law Day,” which was attended by Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰), judges and other members of the legal community.

    The skit made fun of Chen at the time of his arrest on graft charges in November, with a woman depicting him waving his handcuffed hands in the air and complaining about police brutality and judicial persecution.

    At least one of the prosecutors appearing in the skit is involved in the continuing investigation of Chen.

    In a telephone interview with AP, Cohen called performing the skit “unthinkable.”

    “It is as if there are people trying to repudiate all the progress that Taiwan has made over the past 15 years,” he said, referring to Taiwan’s gradual transition from dictatorship to multiparty democracy.

    Cohen said Ma should move swiftly to force Wang to clarify remarks she made in defense of the skit, including her characterization that it was “just a little performance reflecting on current affairs.”

    “If he doesn’t get this, who in Taiwan can get it?” he said.

    There is “an increasingly disturbing circus atmosphere” surrounding the Chen trial that includes not only the mounting of the skit, but also a decision by a Taipei court to reverse its decision and order Chen jailed pending his trial, Cohen said.

    Chen was originally locked up for 32 days to allow prosecutors to build their case against him, then ordered freed on his own recognizance by the court. However, he was returned to jail on Dec. 29 after a new panel of judges heard the prosecutors’ second appeal against him.

    Cohen said Ma’s handling of Chen’s case revealed an apparent choice to placate the extremist wing of his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rather than reaching out to the broad political middle.

    “He’s acting like [US President George W.] Bush in catering to the most right-wing conservative elements,” he said.

    One of the main reasons Chen won the 2000 election was a reaction to decades of “black gold” (corruption) practiced by the KMT. No one was ever tried or put behind bars from that party, but the KMT has been aggressive in prosecuting DDP politicians for the same offenses. It’s not the conviction of DDP members that is the problem, but the obvious one-sided prosecutions and apparent immunity given KMT politicians that makes this trial and others like it politically motivated rather than driven by the need for justice.

    I personally found it unbelievable that Chen wasn’t released on bail while awaiting trial. The reasons for keeping him in custody were petty, ridiculous and stretching the law governing such matters beyond belief. What could have been a real learning experience for the entire nation and an example of how no one is above the law, degenerated into a political show trial and witch hunt. Their reasoning for keeping him locked up? There was a high probability that he would flee the country. And how would perhaps the most recognizable face in Taiwan manage to do that without being noticed? No reply. He might escape another way? Put an ankle monitor on him like other countries do to non-violent suspects. Handcuff him when under arrest? Why? He posed a security risk? He was going to flee? Flee when there were hundreds of reporters and bystanders all around? None of these obvious questions were ever answered by the government or prosecution.

    If this trial had been handled properly, it would have turned over a new page in the development of Taiwan’s legal system. Instead, the country has gone backwards, back towards the era of authoritarianism and political corruption, back towards the darkest days of Taiwan’s postwar history.

  6. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Allen:
    fair questions. This trial might be a seminal moment in Taiwanese judicial/political history if the precedent that is set is henceforth respected and representative of the new line in the sand of what is/isn’t acceptable for those in power. So I think the realistic answer is “we’ll see”.

    It is almost a foregone conclusion that those who support Chen will characterize the whole deal as a kangaroo court, while those who oppose him will say that the Republic has hit a new legal/political high water mark. It’ll be interesting to see how the appeal plays out.

    But I agree with Steve (gee, that’s never happened before) here: “I personally found it unbelievable that Chen wasn’t released on bail while awaiting trial.” — that aspect seemed to me to be political, rather than serving any legitimate legal/custodial purpose.

  7. Allen Says:

    @Steve, Raj –

    A few quick replies.

    As for the judge changes … I don’t know. That’s one of the irregularities in the trial. I wish it didn’t happen, but it did. Personally I don’t see anything substantively bad that occured as a result. Let’s not gang up on some sort of “ad homenim” attacks on the judges. This is a public trial. Everything they have done is in public records. If they did something wrong, let’s hear it. If we don’t like the procedure, let’s tighten it up. If Ma and the KMT forced the changes, let’s have the evidence. But all I hear are innuendos and conspiracy theories …

    As for Chen’s being kept in jail – the fear wasn’t only that he would escape, but that he would collude to cover up evidence. Based on what he has done, it certainly would be up to Chen’s bag of trick to collude to cover up. As for escaping – no I don’t think he’d escape by booking a China Airline flight to L.A. But there are many other ways he could have escaped … and even to seek some kind of “political asylum status” once he got offshore!

    As for Prof. Cohen – he had already gone to NYU by the time I got to Harvard. However, I did read several of his works while at the law school. In general I respect him. But I don’t understand why he’s so adamant that we should remove prosecutors who may have participated in a skit that may have mocked Chen.

    Have we gotten so thin skinned that we cannot take a skit made on the side? People all over Taiwan are doing it anyways. Is Chen so above such rebuke?

    Besides, prosecutors should not play nice. This is an adversarial proceeding. I agree I would ask the prosecutors to stay professional and tell them that given the potential high stakes political fallout from this case they should refrain from mocking Chen in the future. But I can’t imagine that making fun of the president – or ex-president – per se should be a license for removal …

  8. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Allen:
    “As for Chen’s being kept in jail – the fear wasn’t only that he would escape, but that he would collude to cover up evidence.”
    —that seems to be the party line. But considering that the investigation started in 2006, and the bail issue was from December 2008, what evidence could Chen have manipulated in the past 9 months that hadn’t already been established in the preceding 2 years? And even if he had the intent to collude, would he find a willing dance partner? After all, this is a guy who is radioactive.

  9. Allen Says:

    By the way … please understand that I am not arguing about the substance of the case per se. As in all cases – including those held by juries – no case is black or white. Evidence need to be weighed against each other – and the circumstances they were collected. Weighing evidence is the “murky” area of law. If people want to discuss the evidence and play judge here on those evidence – that’s ok. But I’m going to try to (wisely) stay out.

  10. Allen Says:

    @SKC #8,

    This guy is not just radioactive – he’s got kryptonitic power among his supporters! ;-)

    As for bail – Chen was not seriously investigated and charged until after he left office. The concern about him colluding arose after he had been charged… (there was no opportunity to raise the concern before he was charged – and he couldn’t be charged while he was still president)

  11. Raj Says:

    Allen (7)

    How can you not see anything bad happening as a result of changing the judges? First, there’s how it appears, that justice in Taiwan depends on who your accusers are and which political affiliation you belong two. Second, you don’t think that replacing the judges who allowed him to mount his defence by releasing him, with ones who locked him up on the flimsiest of reasons, including fighting for his actual legal rights, couldn’t possibly change what happened? I think anyone can see that could have had a big result on the sentences, if not the verdict.

    In regards to the KMT forcing the changes, do you want me to republish verbatim all the screaming from members of the KMT and their media backers over the first judge’s decision to release Chen? Like their calls for the judge to be impeached, which itself is a grave thing because it says “if you don’t decide cases in our favour you’ll get in trouble”?

    It’s not innuendo, you can read comments that were in the newspapers and watch what was said on the TV!

    As for Chen covering things up, how could he do that? He’d already been investigated for over two years with lots of documents taken – including stuff that the Supreme Court said they shouldn’t have done. He’d never been convicted of a crime before this, except in the KMT kangaroo courts – where was this history of cover-ups that meant he had to be suspected so heavily? Besides if the courts really feared a cover-up they’d never let anyone on corruption charges out. But they let Ma out, they let loads of KMT politicians and businessmen out in the past. Why was Chen the only person in Taiwan capable of a cover-up?

    As for escaping, how could he do so? With his 24/7 guards? Being the most recognisable person in Taiwan at the time? Having already been free for over two weeks and not done anything to arouse suspicion? He knew the charges were coming, so if he could and wanted to have fled he would have done so before he’d even been indicted.

    Have we gotten so thin skinned that we cannot take a skit made on the side?

    Allen, no one here is an official in the justice sector who is supposed to work towards fair trials, uphold the concept of innocent until proven guilty and remain impartial. The skit was just one example of how KMT people in the system were pushing for Chen to be jailed rather than allowing the courts to make the decision. It has nothing to do with Chen being above rebuke, it’s to do with impartiality.

  12. Raj Says:

    One other thing, is anyone surprised that the KMT legislative is already planning to revoke all benefits given to ex-presidents convicted in their first trial?

    Nope, they’ve never had it in for him……

  13. Nimrod Says:

    While I think using the teeth of the law has to start somewhere, and while I am disgusted by Chen’s various antics even besides his corruption, I still think a “seminal case” would have been more effective had it applied to one of your political allies rather than one of your opponents.

  14. dewang Says:

    Hi Steve, #5,

    One of the main reasons Chen won the 2000 election was a reaction to decades of “black gold” (corruption) practiced by the KMT. No one was ever tried or put behind bars from that party, but the KMT has been aggressive in prosecuting DDP politicians for the same offenses.

    I have gotten stopped by highway patrol before for speeding, and I tried arguing back that there were other drivers going faster than I was at the same time. I still got my ticket and I deserved it.

    My view is that with a case like this, the legal system gets strengthened. It’d be much harder for KMT to be overt in covering up the next KMT corruption.

  15. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Nimrod:
    it would’ve taken some serious stones to screw a partisan first prior to skewering an enemy, but definitely agree that they would’ve been insulated from the inevitable insinuations of political interference had they already shown the track record for applying the law without regard for political affiliation.

    To Dewang:
    if Taiwan law and politics has moved to the next level, then we would expect the next corrupt KMT official to similarly be thrown to the wolves. Time will tell.

  16. Raj Says:

    Dewang

    I have gotten stopped by highway patrol before for speeding, and I tried arguing back that there were other drivers going faster than I was at the same time. I still got my ticket and I deserved it.

    So you wouldn’t have a problem with Chinese Americans being several times more likely to be fined for speeding than say caucasians?

    It’d be much harder for KMT to be overt in covering up the next KMT corruption.

    I don’t think they ever try to cover it up. They just deny it and get their buddies to help avoid charges or make their appeal successful.

  17. Jerry Says:

    I am going to comment, but before I do so, I would like to add the comments of another legal scholar. I believe Ms. Lewis’s remarks speak to underlying problems in the judicial procedures of the Chen Shui-bian trial and the Taiwanese judicial system in general.

    The author’s name is Margaret K. Lewis. She published a paper dated February of 2009 in the Virginia Journal of International Law, titled “Taiwan’s New Adversarial System and the Overlooked Challenge of Efficiency-Driven Reforms”. Here is the introduction to the paper with a short bio and a list of people providing assistance and comments.

    Senior Research Fellow, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University School of Law; J.D. 2003, New York University School of Law; B.A. 1997, Columbia University; Furman Fellow, New York University School of Law, 2007–08. The author gratefully thanks for helpful comments and suggestions Rachel E. Barkow, Jerome A. Cohen, James B. Jacobs, Stephen J. Schulhofer, Frank K. Upham, the New York University Goldstock Criminal Luncheon Group, and the 2007–08 Furman Scholars. A special thanks is extended to the many scholars, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges in Taiwan who provided their assistance, especially Wang Jaw-perng, Nigel N.T. Li, Yeh Chien-ting, Wang Chin-shou, Lin Lian-ron, Chuang Jia-wen, Yu Chih-ching, Huang Wen-chi, and Wong Pei-hsien.

    INTRODUCTION

    In the short span of two decades, Taiwan has gone from a repressive, authoritarian state under martial law to a vibrant democracy.(1) This stunning political change has received worldwide attention. Less well-known is the striking overhaul of Taiwan’s criminal justice system that has accompanied these political changes. Taiwan is transforming the inquisitorial structure that characterized the criminal justice system of its dictatorial past into a so-called “reformed adversarial system” that emphasizes contested trials. Yet the concurrent efficiency-driven reforms that are touted as necessary for the new scheme to function are pushing the criminal justice system in an unanticipated and controversial direction. These reforms are creating a distinct form of streamlined, prosecutor- dominated justice that is emerging parallel to the adversarial one and even impeding the development of the new adversarial approach. Currently, the reality of the Taiwanese criminal justice system is not meeting the lofty goals of reformers.

    As Taiwan began to implement this new adversarial system, reformers worried that “extravagant trials” would pose an unmanageable burden.(2) In response, Taiwan looked to the experience of foreign jurisdictions for ways to combat mounting criminal dockets. Taiwan has adopted four primary means of adjudicating criminal disputes in an expeditious fashion: deferred prosecution, plea bargaining, file-based adjudication, and simplified trials.

    Increasingly in Taiwan, abbreviated, nonadversarial procedures that are commonly viewed as sidebars to the adjudication process are in fact becoming the main mechanisms for resolving cases. From a normative perspective, disposing of most cases through means other than a full-scale trial is not inherently bad. In fact, the use of expedited procedures is ubiquitous around the world.(3) Yet this reliance should be a conscious decision, not an accidental byproduct of ostensibly adversarial-supporting reforms.

    This inquiry into Taiwan’s transition is important in its own right. Taiwan has received short shrift in comparative criminal procedure literature. Whereas Taiwan’s transition away from authoritarian rule is well-known, little emphasis has been given in English-language scholarship to the sea change in its legal system. Nor is the dearth of scholarship solely due to lack of interest in foreign legal reforms. A telling contrast is the numerous articles on revisions to Italian criminal procedure that can be found in American law journals over the past twenty years,(4) while efforts to find full English translations of Taiwan’s updated Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code have proven futile. It is high time that a more pronounced voice from East Asia entered the comparative criminal procedure literature. Further, Taiwan’s transition is significant for the lessons that it offers to three audiences: the people of Taiwan as the reform process continues; individuals interested in the introduction of adversarial reforms to other transitional jurisdictions, most notably the People’s Republic of China (China); and those with a more general interest in institutional design as it relates to criminal procedure.

    First, going forward, Taiwanese reformers have important choices to make regarding the handling of criminal cases. Greater attention should be placed on the ramifications of adopting alternatives to the full adjudicative process as the dominant form of criminal proceedings. This Article proposes a more overt two-track system whereby relatively few cases are resolved through adversarial proceedings and the majority of cases are channeled through streamlined proceedings that presuppose the lack of defense representation.

    Second, Taiwan’s experience is relevant to an audience well beyond its twenty-three million residents and foreign legal scholars. Taiwan is an intriguing legal laboratory at a time when criminal justice systems are increasingly unmoored from the traditional adversarial/inquisitorial divide. Its criminal justice reforms are foremost of direct, practical importance to 1.3 billion people across the Taiwan Strait. China is facing virtually identical issues having introduced both adversarial trials—on the books though seldom in practice—as well as its own forms of expedited procedures. In order to predict the future of China’s criminal justice reforms, we should look to Taiwan. It is therefore beneficial to understand Taiwan’s reform path and to examine critically how the resulting system falls short of the adversarial ideal. Taiwan also stands as a useful example for more distant jurisdictions that are experimenting with assorted forms of expedited criminal proceedings in conjunction with the introduction of adversarial-leaning reforms.(5)

    Lastly, for readers without a specific interest in Taiwan or China and their transitions towards an adversarial system, Taiwan’s reform effort raises broader questions regarding the proper allocation of functions and the relationships among various actors within a criminal justice system. What specific roles does society expect and want judges, prosecutors, and lawyers to serve as they carry a case from the initial investigation to ultimate resolution? Are our expectations unattainable in light of practical restraints? And what friction is created by the disparate functions that these actors are required to serve simultaneously?

    This Article proceeds in five parts. Part I fills a gap in the comparative criminal procedure literature by bringing to light the dramatic changes in Taiwan, specifically the fundamental reshaping of the roles of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers as Taiwan cast off its authoritarian past. As the centerpiece of this ambitious reform agenda, Taiwan adopted a reformed adversarial system (6) in order to increase public confidence in the criminal justice system, clarify the roles of judges and prosecutors, and better protect defendants’ rights. At the same time, reformers in Taiwan were forced to confront the reality that existing resources were insufficient to hold lengthy trials in most cases. Part II introduces the basket of efficiency-driven procedures that Taiwan has pursued in conjunction with the new system. Each of these procedures, to varying degrees, presents a form of justice that lacks an adversarial character.

    With this background, Part III explores how Taiwan is caught between where its criminal justice system is and where Taiwan wants it to be. Taiwan’s reform project stems from sincere intentions to revamp the tripartite structure of judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers so that prosecutors and lawyers are equal adversaries battling before relatively passive judges. The academic and legislative debate, however, has neglected to question seriously how accompanying reforms are challenging the remolded relationships on which the reformed adversarial system is premised. For instance, in attempting to implement the new system, Taiwan has failed to support adequately the defense bar that is needed for robust contests. There is a glaring shortage of defense lawyers. In the rare streamlined case where a defendant is represented, structural impediments frustrate the lawyer’s ability to mount an effective defense. Reforms aimed at conserving resources further threaten to muddle the roles of judges and prosecutors by transferring adjudicative power to prosecutors, as well as creating strong incentives for judges to drop out or adopt a negligible role in the proceedings. In short, Taiwan is inadvertently constructing a system that is adversarial in name for all cases but only in substance for a small fraction thereof.

    In light of the foregoing concerns, Part IV addresses the direct lessons for Taiwan and asks whether Taiwan acted too fast in embracing an adversarial path. Once judge-dominated proceedings are disentangled from Taiwan’s authoritarian past, the debate can focus on whether overtly non-adversarial procedures are better suited to Taiwan’s present conditions.

    Part V expands the discussion to address what lessons Taiwan can offer China and other countries that are undergoing similar transitions. It is, of course, both unrealistic and impractical for any country to hold extensive trials in all or even most cases. But the lessons learned from the Taiwanese experience sound a note of caution that reformers are misguided to focus on the minority of cases in which defense lawyers spar with prosecutors in the courtroom. In fact, such a mistake may cause these progressive jurists to overlook how the overall reform package is increasingly channeling cases through very different processes.

    In conclusion, this Article questions how Taiwan’s experience speaks more generally to current debates regarding the roles of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers in any system formally premised on adversarial trials. The insights gained from Taiwan’s transition prompt a deeper rethinking of the tensions inherent to the various functions of actors within the criminal justice system. …

    I am intentionally stopping here. You can view the rest of the document at : Taiwan’s New Adversarial System and the Overlooked Challenge of Efficiency-Driven Reforms

    WARNING: this is a PDF

    #####

    FOOTNOTES
    1. Although technically the Republic of China (ROC), this Article uses “Taiwan” to refer to both the political entity as well as the territory under the effective control of the ROC government (including the islands of Matsu, Penghu, and Kinmen). This Article uses the romanization commonly applied to names of particular places and persons, for example, Chiang Kai-shek. In the absence of established convention, it uses Pinyin as the default. This Article follows East Asian order for Chinese proper names, family name first, except in citations to works in English.

    2. Jaw-perng Wang, Taiwan’s Newly Adopted Procedure of “Plea Bargaining” 3 (June 2007) (unpublished manuscript, on file with author).

    3. See, e.g., Gerard E. Lynch, Screening Versus Plea Bargaining: Exactly What Are We Trading Off?, 55 STAN. L. REV. 1399, 1405 (2003) (“Such an administrative determination of guilt by executive-branch officials may be a departure from traditional due process ideals. It is not, however, intrinsically unfair. Many civilized systems of justice depend on judges who are in many ways comparable to American prosecutors.”).

    4. See, e.g., Ennio Amodio, The Accusatorial System Lost and Regained: Reforming Criminal Procedure in Italy, 52 AM. J. COMP. L. 489 (2004); Ennio Amodio & Eugenio Selvaggi, An Accusatorial System in a Civil Law County: The 1988 Italian Code of Criminal Procedure, 62 TEMP. L. REV. 1211 (1989); Stephen P. Freccero, An Introduction to the New Italian Criminal Procedure, 21 AM. J. CRIM. L. 345 (1994); Elisabetta Grande, Italian Criminal Justice: Borrowing and Resistance, 48 AM. J. COMP. L. 227 (2000); Giulio Illuminati, The Frustrated Turn to Adversarial Procedure in Italy (Italian Criminal Procedure Code of 1988), 4 WASH. U. GLOBAL STUD. L. REV. 567 (2005); Michele Panzavolta, Reforms and Counter-Reforms in the Italian Struggle for an Accusatorial Criminal Law System, 30 N.C. J. INT’L L. & COM. REG. 577 (2005); William T. Pizzi & Mariangela Montagna, The Battle to Establish an Adversarial Trial System in Italy, 25 MICH. J. INT’L L. 429 (2004); William T. Pizzi & Luca Marafioti, The New Italian Code of Criminal Procedure: The Difficulties of Building an Adversarial Trial System on a Civil Law Foundation, 17 YALE J. INT’L L. 1 (1992); Rachel A. Van Cleave, An Offer You Can’t Refuse? Punishment Without Trial in Italy and the United States: The Search for Truth and an Efficient Criminal Justice System, 11 EMORY INT’L L. REV. 419 (1997).

    5. See, e.g., Jonathan L. Hafetz, Pretrial Detention, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in Latin America, 26 FORDHAM INT’L L.J. 1754, 1760 (2003) (discussing the “historic shift from an inquisitorial to adversarial system now underway in countries throughout Latin America”).

    6. The term “reformed” in the phrase “reformed adversarial system” (gai liang shi dang shi ren jin xing zhu yi) is sometimes translated as “modified” or “improved” with the two characters (gai and liang) literally meaning to change for the better.

  18. hzzz Says:

    Unless we are all lawyers by training and have looked over all of the evidence in this case, it would be plain stupid to speculate on the quality of the evidence.

    On Chen’s guilt, I think Chen himself summed it up nicely last year: “My conscience has told me that I cannot continue to lie to myself or to others, so I will choose to be bluntly honest: I have, in the past, committed deeds that are against the rule of law, and I am willing, for all campaign finance dishonesty from my four elections for mayor and for president, to apologize to the people”. To believe that Chen is innocent would also require one to believe that tens of millions of dollars would wire itself to the secret Swiss Chen family account, then to another account on the Cayman Islands. Apparently some people actually believe this sort of thing.

    I do find the sentence to be a bit excessive though. Is there a precedent for this? In the US stealing north of ten million dollars landed the ex-Prez of Tyco something like 8 years in jail. Bernie Madoff got life sentence for fraud but he stole billions. Anyhow, as the original poster wrote from this point on this trial would set a challenging precedent for future politicians regardless of their party affiliations. I personally think it’s nearly impossible to be a politician without being corrupt.

    Finally, it’s funny to see people use the “but but other people are doing it too” excuse. It’s even funnier (but sad at the same time) to see Chen accuse Lee Teng Hui of all people of corruption, only to be put down. I am not too surprised to see that there are more “legal scholars” in the West to defend Chen because even Chen’s own formal DPP comrades have completely abandoned him. As other posters already wrote, this guy is totally toxic.

  19. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #17,

    Thanks for the article. It was an interesting read. Does adversarial system really get to the truth – in theory … or in practice? What is the best use of government resources to maximize the amount of justice in society? (somehow in my mind, this has an analogous feel to the debate in U.S. of how much resources to devote to acute care vs. public health)

    From my personal experience, I will say this: the rule of law is important. But more important is the impact the rule of law on the social fabric of society.

    Whatever people might believe, very few disputes in the world are actually solved through the judicial adjudication. It is too expensive, too inefficient, too time consuming, too emotionally draining… However, if people trust that law will be upheld, and if people understand what the law is – people will get a sense of law that alone will go a long way toward creating a just society.

  20. Allen Says:

    @Raj #11,

    Yes, yes…. I have heard of the impassioned comments on T.V. and in newspapers about the various “irregularities” throughout the trial.

    I am not going to say the “irregularities” mean nothing – because in truth, I do not know.

    What I know is this. The judiciary works with its own quirks. However those quirks (which by themselves may be innocent) turn into proof of conspiracies when millions of people have their eyes fixed on it, gossiping and commenting on the side.

    The O.J. and Rodney Kings trials were some of the most highly watched trials in the U.S. People saw so many “quirks” and “irregularities” – during the investigation and during trial – that make all sides cry foul. (In the U.S., you also wouldn’t want to go find out what goes on in the jury box… like you don’t want to find out how how legislation are crafted … or how sausages are made …). The same is no different about Chen’s trials.

    I already admitted the judge switch was irregular – and such irregularities should be worth watching in judging how Taiwan’s judicial system develops (if judges can be switched for political reasons, the judiciary definitely shouldn’t be considered independent).

    But we should also note that if this particular kind of switch happened in any other “normal” trial, that alone would not raise the eye of any lawyer … seemingly inexplicable things like that happen all the time in the judicial process – for all sorts of reasons (sometimes trivial, sometimes personal, sometimes technical, etc.). Unless one can point out some predisposition or bias – some sort of conflict of interest – some things (technical or otherwise) that should disqualify the new judge – or some things that the judge specifically did wrong – things should move on.

  21. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: I need to make something clear before I go on; I think the prosecution had more than enough evidence to try Chen and I would have expected a conviction to occur. I’m not a Chen supporter either. My concern on this case is the precedent it sets.

    DeWang in #14 talks about speeding. Let’s put it this way, what would you think if only Republicans got speeding tickets with huge fines and jail sentences when convicted, and locked up in jail until their trial? Yes, they were speeding and should have been ticketed but why aren’t Democrats ticketed and why are the punishments far beyond the crimes committed? That’s where this trial gets sticky.

    The thing that really bothers me is that the case was a good one for the prosecution, at least from where I stand. There was no reason to change judges, no reason to keep Chen locked up, no reason to handcuff him for a non-violent crime, and certainly no reason for the prosecution to have a skit mocking Chen. Allen, you really can’t see this as being unprofessional conduct? Would you do such a thing if you were in that situation? Isn’t the appearance of objectivity important when trying to reform a broken judicial system?

    When Ma was tried for taking campaign contributions and putting them in his pocket, was he arrested, handcuffed and locked up? What was his punishment for doing so? If I remember correctly, he was let off because the law was unclear. Why did the law suddenly become crystal clear when it involved Chen? I think there were aspects of his behavior that would have given him a sentence in a totally fair trial but life imprisonment? How can you look at that and say that things are on the up and up?

    Where are the trials for the “black gold” that occurred during the KMT rule? Who has been arrested, tried and convicted? Anyone? Can you give examples of KMT members who were arrested, handcuffed and placed in confinement until trial?

    Allen, if an ankle bracelet is placed on Chen, how can he escape? Where would he go? When Ma was on trial for some of the same charges, why wasn’t he accused of planning to escape?

    Again, I’ll repeat Jerome Cohen’s key statement: “I would say that this case is a test for Taiwan’s judiciary. And the most important question for this case is: ‘Will Taiwanese people accept the verdict?’” Wang said. “If the judiciary fails, people will not believe in the verdict and that was what happened in the case.”

    I remember when the Democrats kept Robert Bork off the Supreme Court and later bragged that they had “borked” him. But when President Clinton nominated judges and the Republicans used those same tactics as a precedent had been set, they cried bloody murder though they themselves had invented it. What will happen when the DPP finally gains power? You might see a mass exodus of former KMT politicians who see the writing on the wall. Is that good for Taiwan? I certainly don’t think so.

  22. Allen Says:

    @Steve #21,

    My personal take on state of Taiwan’s judicial development is: I’m going to wait and see. The questions I asked above in my post are real – I really don’t know. This case could be good or bad – depending on where things in the next 10 years go from here.

    As for spotty prosecution – that’s a legit concern. As I suggested in my post – this may be a test case – this may be the first time speeders are going to get ticketed (to use your analogy). Yes – it’s a bummer for the first ticketed. But if people start slowing down as a result – that’s all good. If speeders are going to be ticked more often starting now – that’s also good. If however only Republicans will be ticketed but not Democrats – that won’t be so good.

    As for the skit – it’s not the role of the prosecutor to be “objective” – that’s the role for the judge. The prosecutor plays both an investigative role as well as an advocacy role. The prosecutor however is not the judge. And please remember – for better or worse – this case is an adversarial case. Jerry posted an article that had an interesting take on whether an adversarial case is always good … but that’s another matter.

    As for Ma’s case. Ma was not found guilty because there was never evidence to say he was personally aware of what went on. Others took the blame for money irregularities. Whether the only difference here and Ma is that Ma found a scapegoat and Chen hasn’t is up to people to speculate. But on the face of the case, Chen’s case is fundamentally different because he not only knew and planned … he also tried to cover up.

    As for Chen escaping – as I said again, and I will say again. Once Chen is out, the chance of him escaping is not zero. In my view, it is actually rather high. Yes there will be monitoring – but stranger things have happened. I really these issues should be left up to the court. I give court wide discretion and latitude in this case. Whether
    Chen was locked up or not does not change whether he is guilty or not…

    As for your last paragraph questioning whether law is being politicized as a tool to ostracize parties out of power – that sure is a concern – as indicated by my questions. I myself don’t think this case can tell us the answer. The result of this case by itself (for me) stands for justice. To determine what trajectory Taiwanese law is going however – that will require further observation. This case alone tells me little…

  23. Jerry Says:

    Steve #5, Raj #1 #2, Allen #19

    I am no expert on Taiwanese affairs, judicial or political. That said, this trial appears tainted, tainted by the “judicial” processes, incidents which show lack of prosecutorial professionalism and judicial/prosecutorial conduct.

    I earlier read the comments of Michael Stainton, Jerome Cohen, Wang Jaw-perng, and Frank Upham out on Michael Turton’s blog, “The View from Taiwan”. I read part of Ms. Lewis’s paper on the Taiwanese judicial system. They show remarkable restraint and impartiality, especially Professor Cohen’s remark. He is in a tenuous, very difficult situation. I wish the prosecutors, judiciary and KMT had shown remarkable restrain and impartiality; they failed.

    As Allen wrote in #19, “From my personal experience, I will say this: the rule of law is important. But more important is the impact the rule of law on the social fabric of society.” As Steve wrote in #5, “If this trial had been handled properly, it would have turned over a new page in the development of Taiwan’s legal system. Instead, the country has gone backwards, back towards the era of authoritarianism and political corruption, back towards the darkest days of Taiwan’s postwar history.” How you conduct yourself, how you play the game does matter. It matters a lot.

    Taiwan has regressed. As I wrote to Allen at another post:

    One could argue that, under the KMT, Taiwan’s democracy is a work in regress. The Chen Shui-bian trial and verdict is a blow to the heart and soul of this wonderful country with wonderful people. His kangaroo court and trial did not dispense justice. It dispensed politics.”

    Now, is this an indelible blow? No. Can Taiwan and the Taiwanese people recover? Yes.

    Allen, in #19, you wrote, “Does adversarial system really get to the truth – in theory … or in practice?”

    I agree with Ms. Lewis’s conclusion, “Once judge-dominated proceedings are disentangled from Taiwan’s authoritarian past, the debate can focus on whether overtly non-adversarial procedures are better suited to Taiwan’s present conditions.” When addressing the need for reform of the judiciary system, the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction. The prosecutorial-dominated system, with its streamlined efficiency-driven reforms, is subject to the same corruption which plagued the old judge-dominated system. We must deal with the corruption first before pushing additional reforms. The fault is not primarily in the system, but in the people who are driving the system. I quote the immortal words of Cassius, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

  24. Jerry Says:

    @Steve #21, @Allen #22

    Steve wrote in #21:

    DeWang in #14 talks about speeding. Let’s put it this way, what would you think if only Republicans got speeding tickets with huge fines and jail sentences when convicted, and locked up in jail until their trial? Yes, they were speeding and should have been ticketed but why aren’t Democrats ticketed and why are the punishments far beyond the crimes committed? That’s where this trial gets sticky.

    Allen, you wrote in #22

    As I suggested in my post – this may be a test case – this may be the first time speeders are going to get ticketed.

    We are not talking about this being the first time speeders are getting ticketed. We are talking about DPP leaders getting ticketed & punished and KMT leaders neither being ticketed nor punished. And the punishments meted out to the DPPers are far beyond the crimes committed. That is a profoundly different situation.

  25. dewang Says:

    Hi Guys,

    Yikes! Allen, I think you have hit an emotional button on FM!

    I kinda liked S.K. Cheung’s comment #15, and then Allen later also said, “time will tell.”

    Steve, Raj,

    Sure, I understand the point about being one sided. That’s not acceptable. At the slightly more fundamentalist level, crimes need to be prosecuted.

    Jerry, Steve

    Wrt punishment fitting the crime. If I am Ma, I would make sure that this “fitting” sits well on both KMT/DPP sides.

    I do have to say too though, white-collar crimes in the U.S. are dealt with lot more leniently than in places like mainland China. Life sentence for Chen is going to affront American sensibilities.

    Anyways, I don’t have anything much in way of substance to add. I haven’t followed the case.

  26. Raj Says:

    hzzz (18)

    About the wiring of the money, first there is the argument that it was Chen’s wife who moved the money around. I’m not saying it’s true and completely exhonerates him from anything, but just because traditional society thinks that the man needs to keep the wife in the kitchen doesn’t mean that under the law Chen should automatically be responsible for what his wife does – unless he had a specific obligation to monitor the money in the first place.

    However, more importantly if it is the case that the law allowed Chen to keep the money in the first place (as some observers like Michael Stainton suggested), he or his wife can move it around as many times as they like. It still wouldn’t be a crime, least of all moneylaundering.

    Of course politicians will stay away from him. Some were annoyed about how his influence on previous elections, but more significantly he was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion – thanks to the prosecutors leaking (one-sided) information. But that’s the game you play in politics. If you can’t keep your affairs and those of your family tidy, you’re out the door.

    By the way, the points about the KMT are not a defence of Chen. It’s that justice is not being done in Taiwan and that corruption is not being fought by treating politicians differently based on their party membership.

    ++++

    Allen (20)

    I’ll make the point again. You said you wanted to know when the KMT had influenced the trials – I responded that the KMT were screaming for the judges to be changed and threatening the former judge with impeachment. Given that the KMT massively dominates the legislative and controls the presidency, that is a big threat to any independently-minded judge out there. “Decide cases in our favour, or else!” I don’t expect all judges to suddenly bow to the KMT, but it doesn’t help the reform process.

    As for the changing of the judge itself, you’re being far too rigid in insisting that judge has to be proved to be biased. The removing of the former judge itself was wrong because it was done for the reason that he showed some sympathy to Chen in releasing him, despite the fact it was a perfectly normal thing to do. He wasn’t proven to be biased, perhaps just impartial.

    In any case, there are reasons to suspect the new judge, such as has been mentioned previously, like the fact he refused bail on any grounds and for several different, nonsense reasons such as Chen going on hunger strike because his legal rights were being ignored in detention. No impartial judge would have such a spiteful, arrogant attitude.

    There’s also what the judge said himself in his verdict – “one person’s greed has caused chaos throughout the whole country”.

    That’s a famous KMT/Pan-Blue talking point in Taiwan. No impartial person would say that taking bribes or “moneylaundering” of a few $ million caused chaos in the whole country.

    This was a point made by A-gu, the Taiwan politics blogger.

    This line I find so interesting because it is nearly identical to one of the best indicators of Blue-leaning voter preference in Taiwan.

    (Green-voter preferences are normally recognized immediately by campaign clothing or hats, strong preference for underground radio or tirades that begins with “The Kuomintang….”)

    Blue voters in Taiwan will often ask foreigners, “Do you think Taiwan is really chaotic?” or say to each other, “Taiwan is too chaotic.” If one talks about a few law-and-order or political issues for long enough, you might hear the best indicator of being deep-Blue, which is invariably, “Taiwan is too free.”

    Not sure if this sounds like silly hyperbole, but I have been consistantly surprised at this glimpse into the Pan-blue mind. For one, it’s correlation to those preferences is solid. For another, It is entirely opposite of my impression of Taiwan. This is one of the safest countries on the face of the earth. There is virtually no violent crime, not much non-violent crime, a very free and open society, and only the rarest instances of public unrest.

    And the judge’s view of Taiwan as a chaotic place (the “chaotic” but very well organized contests being caused entirely by Chen, of course,) tells me we can now be relatively sure the judge has a very strong political bias after all.

    So whilst none of this should have made the judge automatically “disqualified” from hearing Chen’s case, it’s enough to say that the decision to change the judges was the wrong one.

  27. hzzz Says:

    “However, more importantly if it is the case that the law allowed Chen to keep the money in the first place (as some observers like Michael Stainton suggested), he or his wife can move it around as many times as they like. It still wouldn’t be a crime, least of all moneylaundering.”

    Yes, if the tens of millions of dollars was obtained legally there is no reason why Chen should not be allowed to do whatever he pleases with it. There is also the possibility that his wife and relatives managed to wire all that money without Chen’s knowing.

    If that’s the case though, why would Chen admit that he broke the law when talking about this very issue in the Aug of last year? Unless Chen knows that the evidence against him is extremely damaging he would of continued to proclaim complete innocence just like the day before his apology (which came out right after the Swiss government agreed to handover bank statements to the Taiwan government I think). Also, Chen’s own family members’ insistence that Chen is innocent just because KMT officials allegedly also money launder is a terrible give-a-way of Chen’s guilt. It’s one thing to say “I didn’t do it”, it’s another to say “I did it, but it should be okay because others did it too”. The two statements contradict each other.

    Finally, while a lot of people disagree with the heavy handedness of how government justice department handled this (hand cuffing Chen, locking him up, etc), as the thread started stated is this ultimately a bad thing to hold someone accountable for what looks like fraud even if that person used to hold the highest power in that nation? Because once the precedent has been set, Ma and rest of the KMT officials who have been accused of similar things will likely to go through the same experience once they are out of power. This will force the politicians to be as clean as possible.

  28. TonyP4 Says:

    Should Soong Chi Man go to prison too?

    Warning to the Chinese students driving fancy cars in US. If your parents are making 10 K a year and you’re driving a 40K dollar car, watch out and and at least keep your high-flying life style low-key.

  29. Allen Says:

    @Raj #26,

    You wrote:

    I’ll make the point again. You said you wanted to know when the KMT had influenced the trials – I responded that the KMT were screaming for the judges to be changed and threatening the former judge with impeachment. Given that the KMT massively dominates the legislative and controls the presidency, that is a big threat to any independently-minded judge out there. “Decide cases in our favour, or else!” I don’t expect all judges to suddenly bow to the KMT, but it doesn’t help the reform process.

    So – what is the problem here??? Are you complaining about the KMT action? Or the judicial action? I really am very lost… You always throw out lots of innuendos – but I usually have a hard time connecting them. If you have a problem with the judge – tell us what is the problem with the judge. If you have a problem with judge’s actions – tell us what act you have a problem with. If you have a problem with KMT politicians controlling the judiciary – tell us how the KMT politicians are controlling the judiciary. If you have a problem with KMT politicians mouthing off stuffs – sorry – unless we want to restrict the right of speech by KMT politicians, I can’t do too much about that. If you think clean judges will voluntarily withdraw from a big-name case like this all on account of a few “public threats” from a few big mouths KMT politicians, I can assure you that’s not how the real world works…

    You also wrote:

    There’s also what the judge said himself in his verdict – “one person’s greed has caused chaos throughout the whole country”.

    That’s a famous KMT/Pan-Blue talking point in Taiwan. No impartial person would say that taking bribes or “moneylaundering” of a few $ million caused chaos in the whole country.

    If you really feel so – then you might as well say: what’s wrong with politicians taking a few $ million here and there – it’s really not going to hurt the country that much or cause that much confusion. Since the country is not really that hurt by it – what with the damage being only a few cents per citizen – let’s not spend so much efforts prosecuting corruption and moneylaundering charges …

  30. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #24,

    You wrote:

    We are not talking about this being the first time speeders are getting ticketed. We are talking about DPP leaders getting ticketed & punished and KMT leaders neither being ticketed nor punished. And the punishments meted out to the DPPers are far beyond the crimes committed. That is a profoundly different situation.

    I’ll follow along with your assumption that many politicians in Taiwan are guilty as Chen – and that Chen’s only fault is getting caught and being prosecuted.

    Let’s say we have 5 drivers speeding at the same time (Chen being one of them). Let’s say we have 1 police on scene. Let’s say we’ve never enforced speed limits but have threatened to do so for years and that we are going to be serious about it this time.

    The police initiates pursuit and catches 1 person and gives him a ticket.

    Is there a problem? No – in my opinion. It’s a problem if this 1 ticket is given only this once and won’t be given again, but not a problem simply because the other 4 (for lack of evidence or resources or whatever for now) haven’t been given a ticket. As I wrote in #22

    Yes – it’s a bummer for the first ticketed. But if people start slowing down as a result – that’s all good. If speeders are going to be ticked more often starting now – that’s also good. If however only Republicans will be ticketed but not Democrats – that won’t be so good.

    In any justice system, you will have many guilty walk free, a few guilty incarcerated (this is also true of the criminal justice system in U.S., as well as Europe in general). The fact that some guilty does walk does not mean however that all guilty should be freed.

  31. Allen Says:

    @Raj #26,

    Sorry – I need to follow up with one more thing besides what I wrote in #29.

    I personally think that Chen’s crime is not that heavy. I personally would tolerate some corruption in government. I think it happens in all governments in all countries…

    But I don’t think what is happening in Taiwan is necessarily bad or unrealistic. If an independent judiciary with vigilant prosecutors are going to go after corrupt politicians, causing some political mayhem – the more the power to them. We may want to reform the judiciary or relax the law more because we want politicians to have some “leeway” – we may even give presidents carte-blanche power to pardon to former presidents to protect the “dignity” of the office where necessary – because we don’t want to have too much political turmoil – these may all be valid policy options for the future. But what is going on today (aggressive prosecution using independent judiciary to target politicians who have admitted to abusing their powers) per se is a far cry from political witch hunt.

  32. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #30 #31, @TonyP4 #28, @Raj #26

    Tony, you wrote, “Should Soong Chi Man go to prison too?” Pardon my ignorance, but who is Soong Chi Man?

    Allen, you wrote in #30:

    Let’s say we have 5 drivers speeding at the same time (Chen being one of them). Let’s say we have 1 police on scene. Let’s say we’ve never enforced speed limits but have threatened to do so for years and that we are going to be serious about it this time.
    The police initiates pursuit and catches 1 person and gives him a ticket.

    Is there a problem? No – in my opinion. It’s a problem if this 1 ticket is given only this once and won’t be given again, but not a problem simply because the other 4 (for lack of evidence or resources or whatever for now) haven’t been given a ticket.

    I have no issue with that if it is done impartially. As you know, profiling is rife in the US. Numerous police officers have made decisions to give tickets and pull over certain cars based on some very suspect profiling: namely, picking people who are guilty of “driving while black, Asian, Chinese, Muslim or Hispanic”. The Taiwanese version of profiling appears to center on “driving while DPP”. I do have a problem with that.

    Allen, you postulated an assumption in #31 in response to Raj in #26:

    If an independent judiciary with vigilant prosecutors are going to go after corrupt politicians, causing some political mayhem – the more the power to them.

    Therein lies the crux of the issue. Is this the case in Taiwan, or not? I would also add to your postulation/assumption: judicial restraint, and professionalism & impartiality on the parts of the prosecutors and judiciary. That goes to credibility.

  33. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi Jerry,

    Soong Tzu-Wen (better translation than mine) was the son of Charles Soong whose 3 daughters ‘ruled’ China at their generation.

    He passed away already, so he may be serving in prison in hell. Reportedly, he got rich due to his connection with Chiang. If he were not richest man in the world, he should be the richest man in Asia. Few rich Asians get to that position without corruption.

    Here is more info about him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._V._Soong.

  34. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #32,

    I’d like to hear about your idea how prosecutors should be impartial. My understanding of prosecutors are these are professional who gathers evidence and present the case against an individual suspected of breaking the law. I never heard of them having to be “impartial” to the suspects…

    In U.S. prosecutors are part of the executive branch (federal or state). When politicians – especially acting leaders in the executive branch – get into trouble and become the subject of investigations – independent committees of prosecutors are formed to ensure prosecutors do not come under the influence of acting leaders. But this sense of “impartiality” doesn’t apply in this case – since Chen was in no position to exert undue pressure on the current prosecutors….

  35. Raj Says:

    KMT proposes ‘decriminalizing’ fund

    The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday again proposed “decriminalizing” the use of the special allowance fund by government chiefs.
    The KMT caucus first suggested an amendment to the Audit Law (審計法) in April 2007 that would decriminalize government chiefs’ personal use of special allowance funds….

    “Now that Chen has been found guilty in the first trial, we can now discuss [decriminalization] of [how the government chiefs use their] special allowance fund,” [KMT caucus secretary-general ] Lu [Hsueh-chang (呂學樟)] said, referring to the verdict handed out by the Taipei District Court on Friday sentencing Chen and his wife Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) to life in prison in the first trial of Chen’s state affairs fund case.

    The KMT is so shameless….

  36. Charles Liu Says:

    Wow Cohen is a law professor? The convicted should be released during appeal?

    Poor Ahbian, 1st ROC president get caught; wasn’t every ROC president before him implicated on something? Old Chiang even sold opium during the warloard era.

    And all the pan-green Chen supporters should take it easy. “Life” is subject to parole after 14 years, and with the ebb and flow of politics, maybe their “golden birdcage” house arrest will be shorter than that.

  37. Allen Says:

    @Charles Liu #36,

    Yes Cohen’s piece quoted here is very biased. But Cohen in general was considered a good scholar – one of the very few who was interested in East Asia when East Asia was considered mostly “backward” here in the States.

    Here is a little about law professors. They write to be published. And very few of their work are actually insightful about how to make the world a better place (unlike works from science and engineering leaders), since their works are usually mumble jumbled (this is how lawyers cover their butt).

    When you work in law – you cite the Constitution, statutes, case laws, administrative codes, and perhaps well known treatises. Only after you run out of sources to cite do you perhaps cite law reviews – but when you get down to that level, you might as well also cite editorials from the NY Times.

    I may want to become a professor some day. But I’d do that for lifestyle more than anything else. If you want to be movers and shakers – you don’t really become a law professor. Go be an innovator, a good judge, an advocate for a cause you believe in, a can-do business leader, or an artist or musician with a heart.

  38. Allen Says:

    @Raj #35,

    I am not surprised by this. As I commented yesterday in #31, I’m not per se against changing some of the laws on which Chen has been convicted as a matter of sound policy moving forward.

    I think the way you quote things are deceptive, so let me requote the story you cited in a little more detail :

    The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday again proposed “decriminalizing” the use of the special allowance fund by government chiefs.

    The KMT caucus first suggested an amendment to the Audit Law (審計法) in April 2007 that would decriminalize government chiefs’ personal use of special allowance funds.

    The move at the time was seen as a bid to clear embezzlement allegations against then-former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was indicted in February 2007 on charges of embezzling NT$11 million (US$338,000) from his special mayoral allowance during his eight years as Taipei mayor between December 1998 and July 2006.

    Ma was found not guilty in the final verdict in April last year.

    After Ma’s indictment, about 200 incumbent or former government chiefs from both the pan-blue and the pan-green camps, including then-vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and former premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), were indicted by prosecutors for allegedly embezzling their special affairs funds.

    DPP Policy Research Committee head Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the previous legislative session had reached a consensus to push through the legislation during the upcoming fall session, but the KMT caucus had insisted on dealing with the matter only after a ruling was handed down in the first trial of Chen’s case.

    The proposed amendment to decriminalize government chiefs’ personal use of special allowance funds means delinking the issue from the president’s use of the state affairs fund, an idea that members of the DPP are divided on.

    DPP caucus whip Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) said he would propose a motion during the party’s Central Standing Committee on Wednesday, suggesting that the president’s state affairs fund be included in the proposed amendment.

    Let me rephrase my thoughts before in the context of this sotry. The law was the law, and if you violated it, you violated it. After the political turmoil of applying those laws, we may think about amending the law. Not only is that ok, it’s the right thing to do.

    It’s important that Ma, Chen, and the 200 or so other politicians (from both parties) already under investigation should be vetted under the law before we change the law. If we change the law in the middle of the course simply because so many “important” people were being prosecuted, we’d really be guilty of active legislative meddling of the judicial process….

    If both parties want to work together now on reforming the system in light of the prosecutions of the last 2-3 years, that’s fine with me…

  39. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #34

    Allen, you wrote:

    I’d like to hear about your idea how prosecutors should be impartial. My understanding of prosecutors are these are professional who gathers evidence and present the case against an individual suspected of breaking the law. I never heard of them having to be “impartial” to the suspects…

    Allen you think like an attorney. I don’t. I don’t want to think like an attorney.

    The word impartial, to me means: not partial; fair; showing lack of favoritism; not biased. Regarding prosecuting attorneys, I expect them to vigorously prosecute a case. I expect them to use the evidence in the case. I expect them to not hide or conjure up evidence. I expect them to be non-partisan and independent. They should not be swayed by political parties or political connections; I actually expect them to disregard such pressure. I expect them to act in a credible manner.

    Let me add 3 words here for clarification: integrity, ethics and scruples.

    During the reign of Alberto Gonzales as US AG, his office came under ridicule and scandal for the dismissal of US District Attorneys for political, partisan reasons. In my viewpoint, Shrub and Gonzales tainted the office of the AG. That creates doubt and a diminution of credibility. Not good.

    If you ask me for an example of a stellar prosecutor, I would choose US Dist. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald. He was very deft and credible in his handling of the George Ryan investigation, the Plame/Libby investigation, Conrad Black case, and is currently handling the Blagojevich investigation and case. Those were and are all very politically sensitive cases, which his office handled very credibly.

    You wrote:

    But this sense of “impartiality” doesn’t apply in this case – since Chen was in no position to exert undue pressure on the current prosecutors….

    I agree that Chen was in no position to exert undue pressure. But the KMT party, Ma, KMT members of the executive branch, KMT legislators and other KMT members of the judiciary were and are in an excellent position to exert undue pressure. Because of that, impartiality does apply in this case.

    BTW, Allen, since impartiality is the only thing you questioned in #32, is it safe to assume that you agree with all the other points in #32? ::LMAO:: :D

  40. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #37 #38

    Allen, in #37 you wrote, “Yes Cohen’s piece quoted here is very biased.” Maybe IYHO, but not IMHO.

    Allen, in #38 you wrote to Raj. “I think the way you quote things are deceptive”. Whoa, Nellie! That is a little harsh.

    I think it is rather disingenuous of certain KMT denizens to propose a rule change post facto (I am not saying or suggesting ex post facto). I am glad that you and the KMT have Taiwan’s best interests “at heart”! It is so reassuring and refreshing. It brings tears to my eyes. And if you think I am being cynical and mean, you are correct. ::ROFL:: :D

  41. colin Says:

    Never was really interested in Taiwan affairs before, but this verdict gives me a more positive image of their judicial system.

    If only Bush II and his entourage could be prosecuted for their crimes.

  42. Raj Says:

    Allen (38)

    I resent the allegation that I was anything deceptive in anything I said in that comment. I was not in any way.

    The fact is that when Ma was in trouble the KMT were falling over themselves to change the law, even throwing out their own party’s anti-corruption rules to let him stand. At one point they were proposing clauses in their draft bill that would make changes retroactive to save Ma. Of course when he was cleared they lost interest, especially as they saw the opportunity to punish Chen for twice beating them in elections.

    The KMT are hypocrites, as well as vindictive.

  43. Jason Says:

    @punish Chen for twice beating them in elections.

    Chen cheated in 2004 and that shooting hoax is the act of this tyrant.

  44. Charles Liu Says:

    Allan @ 37 – wasn’t Obama a law professor?

  45. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #39,

    You wrote:

    Allen you think like an attorney. I don’t. I don’t want to think like an attorney.

    I’m with you. The law sometimes obfuscates rather than illuminates. The law sometimes take on a life of its own… I don’t blame you for your sentiments. It’s a sentiment I often have myself.

    The word impartial, to me means: not partial; fair; showing lack of favoritism; not biased. Regarding prosecuting attorneys, I expect them to vigorously prosecute a case. I expect them to use the evidence in the case. I expect them to not hide or conjure up evidence. I expect them to be non-partisan and independent. They should not be swayed by political parties or political connections; I actually expect them to disregard such pressure. I expect them to act in a credible manner.

    Let me add 3 words here for clarification: integrity, ethics and scruples.

    I have no problem with this in general … but have minor issues with a couple of points. I agree prosecutors should “not hide or conjure up evidence.” Have they in this case?

    Also about the statement, “I expect them to be non-partisan and independent,” do you mean to imply that prosecutors have been partisan and biased in this case? Remember hundreds of people (from both KMT and DPP) have been investigated. Do you see any biases in the treatment as a well?

    People often bring up the point that Ma and Chen received different treatments. In my view, they were both vigorously investigated. The fact that Ma was cleared of his allegations while Chen was convicted of his does not per se mean there is bias. It could very well be the case that Ma is innocent while Chen is guilty.

    Being vigorously investigated is not per se a bias. I have many friends who work in various AG’s offices in the U.S. A lot of times, all they have is a hunch that someone is guilty. They go hard after them even though all they had was this hunch. Doing so does not prove that the prosecutor is “biased” and unprofessional – in fact, it is part of his job. If the prosecutor finally find the evidence that convicts a suspect, the prosecutor should be praised for a job well done – not be attacked for being biased going “too hard” to incriminate someone.

  46. Allen Says:

    @Charles Liu #44,

    Yes Obama was a professor as U Chicago. He was relatively junior, and according to people who worked with him, was never much interested in being a professor, but had already set sights on politics…

  47. Raj Says:

    Chen cheated in 2004 and that shooting hoax is the act of this tyrant.

    Sure, he had someone shoot at him, which could have cost him his life. And he bribed the American scientists who assisted the initial investigation and said it wasn’t staged. And despite the fact he has left office, was replaced by the KMT and has been sentenced to life, no one has come forward with inside evidence or even said “it was me – I’m blowing the whistle”.

    Believe what you want.

  48. Steve Says:

    The American scientists that were brought in were Dr. Cyril Wecht, Michael Haag, and Major Timothy Palmbach. They are all recognized experts in their field. Wecht personally examined Chen’s belly and concluded it was consistent with a gunshot wound.

    Dr. Henry Lee (born in China, raised in Taiwan and a former Taipei police captain) was also brought in on the case. After he and his team examined the assassination attempt, they concluded that the bullets had come from outside the vehicle. The conclusion of the investigation is summarized in this NY Times article.

    This is simply Taiwan’s version of the “birthers” conspiracy theorists. Again, absolutely no evidence showing it was not an actual assassination attempt. Jason, if you want to make an accusation, next time could you offer even a modicum of evidence instead of blatant, unsubstantiated rumors?

  49. Jason Says:

    We know Chen Shui-bian faked his own shooting because Chen himself, Chen henchmen Chiu Yi-ren and Wu Nai-ren, and Chen’s Democratic Progressive Party have conveniently provided citizens of the Republic of China with more than enough human evidence to determine who perpetrated the March 19 shooting and why.

    At 3:15pm on March 19, 2004, shortly after the shooting ocurred, Secretary General of the Presidential Office Chiu Yi-ren held a press conference. Chiu appeared before TV cameras and told reporters:

    “Zi dan zai zong tong shen shang,” meaning “The bullet is (in/on) the president’s body.”

    Chiu repeated his statement three times. The third time he said it, he could no longer suppress his triumphant glee. He smirked uncontrollably, almost breaking into audible laughter. Millions of television viewers on Taiwan witnessed Chiu’s disgusting performance. They knew Chiu was jerking the public around somehow. Later that day, they learned just exactly how.

    The bullet lodged next to Chen’s spinal column, leaving his life hanging by a thread, was never “in” his body at all, it was “on” his body. The bullet had been miraculously trapped in the fabric of Chen’s jacket, and merely appeared to be “in” Chen’s body because hospital x-ray technicians were so incompetent they took the x-rays with Chen’s jacket still on.

    Chen’s silence for this case is revealing that he’s hiding from this brouhaha.

  50. Allen Says:

    @Raj #42,

    You wrote:

    I resent the allegation that I was anything deceptive in anything I said in that comment. I was not in any way.

    I apologize.

    I tried to be careful to say in #38 that it’s your quote that was deceptive not you, but I guess even that went too far…

    In your original quote in #35, you focused on a quote that taken alone suggest that the KMT has been holding back from changing the law just to make sure Chen is convicted.

    In truth, even as reported in the article you quoted, the story is much more nuanced than that.

    Many in KMT had already tried to change the law when it became clear some years ago that the law was going to be used to implicate a lot of politicians – including Ma when he was still just mayor. Most DPP politicians had opposed to do so since they saw an oppotunity to nab Ma, the biggest challenger to the DPP’s grip on power. And though the KMT controlled the legislature, many KMT leaders too were opposed since it might seem look like a subversion of justice to save Ma.

    When Ma was finally cleared, and when speculations of Chen’s crimes became more rampant, many DPP politicians had a change of heart and wanted to push for removal of the laws, but many KMT politicians resisted: wait, let’s be fair. If you want the law to implicate politicians, let’s let the law run its course. We’ll see about changing the law after the current wave of prosecution has been completed.

    Most of the investigations – including hundreds into politicians in both parties – have already been wrapped up. Chen’s investigation and trial however dragged on … till now.

    Yes, now that the first phase of Chen’s trial has been wrapped up, many in the KMT may finally decide that it it’s time to reopen the debate on whether the law should be changed – something that KMT leaders first brought up when Ma got implicated a few years ago – and something that politicians in both parties may finally be ready to do something about now.

  51. Steve Says:

    @ Jason #49: That’s not evidence. Three outside, non-biased experts examine the case and come up with evidence. One of them personally examines Chen’s body. They were brought in precisely to avoid all the political bias. You cite someone making a statement on an interview and your “evidence” is reading his body language? That’s classic conspiracy theory stuff. Is that all you have? Are you saying he wasn’t shot at? What exactly happened? Where’s your substantiation for this?

    I don’t particularly care for Chen or Ma or anyone else in Taiwan politics so I don’t have an axe to grind. But I need a bit more evidence than someone smirking. I grew up with firearms and followed this case pretty closely when it happened, just out of curiosity. Every person I talked to who believed in some kind of conspiracy theory had no understanding of guns, how they work or what they’re capable of doing. Gun ownership in Taiwan is virtually non-existent from what my wife tells me. In fact, I don’t have a gun in the house anymore because it makes her too uncomfortable.

  52. Jason Says:

    @Steve

    Read the last paragraph!

    Why was Chen Shiu Bian’s Secret Service guarding them reduced? Those who didn’t protect GOT PROMOTED but than was sacked on KMT pressure.

    Chen and Lu wore Kevlar vest whenever they were out public. So why DIDN’T they wore it at the day of the assassination?

    This isn’t the first he pulled a stunt and accused PRC and KMT’s fault.

    In 1985 Chen Shui-bian was running for Tainan County Commissioner. His three rivals took part in a public debate held at a local elementary school. Chen Shui-bian was a no show. Debate organizers called out his name three times. No response. They declared the debate officially over.

    At that moment, Chen appeared, carried in on a stretcher. Chen’s aides seized the still live microphone and handed it to Chen, who announced, “I was poisoned by agents of the KMT!”

  53. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #36:
    “The convicted should be released during appeal?”
    —that’s not unusual at all. Not completely free of course; there would be bail conditions. But unless you’re charged/convicted of violent crimes, certainly not unusual around here. Of course, bail pending appeal is usually a continuation of bail during the trial, so in this case, I suppose there isn’t much bail to continue. And we’ve already discussed why that may or may not have been the case.

    To Allen:
    obviously I can’t speak to the law. But would a reasonable person think it justifiable that the last person speeding but the first person caught should be given the heaviest imaginable sentence, only for them to raise the speed limit immediately thereafter? (sorry, using your analogy without express written consent) :-)

  54. Allen Says:

    I can understand why conspiracy theories surround Chen and the DPP. We know irregularities are often associated with their political drama in Taiwan. In the 2002, Frank Hsieh’s Kaohsiung election win was accompanied by fake sex tapes. Chen Shui-Bian was involved in a fake tea-poisoning incident in 1985 while running for Tainan County Commissioner.

    Here is a post on why “suspicions” continue to surround the 2004 shooting incident.

    Time announced that one year after the incident, much still doesn’t make sense about the case.

    I didn’t follow the story that much then – since I figure a win is a win is a win for Chen…

  55. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #45

    Allen, I think you are reading in more than I intended. I am discussing standards in #39. That is why I gave the examples of an exemplary, Patrick Fitzgerald and a partisan, Alberto Gonzales.

    “Do you see any biases in the treatment as a well?” Yes. Prosecutors who engage in activities like the Chen skit in January diminish their credibility.

    “Remember hundreds of people (from both KMT and DPP) have been investigated.” I would imagine that some investigations are merely nominal and some are very thorough. I just don’t know. But are all investigations equal?

    Being vigorously investigated is not per se a bias. I have many friends who work in various AG’s offices in the U.S. A lot of times, all they have is a hunch that someone is guilty. They go hard after them even though all they had was this hunch. Doing so does not prove that the prosecutor is “biased” and unprofessional – in fact, it is part of his job. If the prosecutor finally find the evidence that convicts a suspect, the prosecutor should be praised for a job well done – not be attacked for being biased going “too hard” to incriminate someone.

    Allen, you are changing the subject here. I believe in aggressive, ethical, thorough, professional, impartial investigations and prosecutions. Patrick Fitzgerald does that in his office’s investigations, no matter the political affiliations. I respect him and his staff for that. I wonder if there is any prosecutor here in Taiwan who is anywhere near the caliber of Fitzgerald. For this country’s sake, I would hope so.

    Stepping back from the issue of prosecutors, let’s look at the issue of trying an ex-president. This is fraught with unexpected, unintended consequences, ramifications and repercussions for the nation. This can shake the very foundation of a country, right to its roots. This is a delicate affair which needs to be handled with care, statesmanship, caution, professionalism, integrity and scruples. I believe, based on what I have observed, read and after serious consideration, that the prosecutors, judiciary, the legislators and the executive branch have failed. The verdict is surely important, but I believe the conduct of those carrying out justice is more important. To me, winning/losing is not the important issue; the most important is how you play the game.

    I earlier wrote, “The Chen Shui-bian trial and verdict is a blow to the heart and soul of this wonderful country with wonderful people.” This is not because of the verdict, per se, but because of the way this whole trial was conducted. I am afraid that Taiwan is now much more susceptible to super-Borking and retaliation. Ask my friends in Israel. This is not a game you want to play. And the atmosphere in American politics seems much more highly charged and retaliatory now. Pretty damned ugly if you ask me.

  56. Steve Says:

    @ Jason: None of what you wrote is evidence of a “fake” assassination. As I posted in another thread, you might want to look up “Occam’s Razor” and see if it passes that test. It doesn’t even come close. That’s why they brought in independent investigators. After the investigation, was everything “cut and dried”? No, there were loose ends in the case but there are loose ends in almost every case.

    It’s no different with the “birthers” argument.
    “Show us Obama’s birth certificate”.
    “Here it is, electronically.”
    “Show us the actual piece of paper.”
    “There is no piece of paper, all our birth certificates are electronic these days.”
    “Aha! That isn’t proof since it could have been placed there later and be faked. Unless you can show us the piece of paper dated from his birth, you have no proof so therefore he must have been born somewhere else.”

    That argument doesn’t pass Logic 101 and neither do the arguments you used for Chen’s attempted assassination.

    “Hospital x-ray technicians were incompetent, therefore Chen must be lying.”
    “Chen wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest, therefore he must have planned this.”
    “There weren’t as many Secret Service agents near him as usual, therefore he planned this.” (Secret Service protection is controlled by the agency, not the President)
    “Nineteen years earlier, Chen supposedly faked an illness, therefore he must have faked this assassination.”

    I personally don’t care whether Chen faked it or not, but I need to have some sort of actual evidence in order to buy into a theory. You have provided none. I referenced the independent investigators brought in specifically because they weren’t partisan. It sure seems you’re not a big fan of Chen’s and have an obvious bias, therefore you’re willing to believe highly speculative conjecture. I didn’t think much of his presidency, but I’m not willing to suspend all logic because of it.

  57. Steve Says:

    @ Jerry & Allen: Allen, I think Jerry summed it up concisely when he wrote “Prosecutors who engage in activities like the Chen skit in January diminish their credibility.” Prosecutors are not supposed to be partial, they are supposed to be impartial concerning the law. If someone breaks the law, they prosecute based on the law. Putting on a skit mocking the defendant is incredibly unprofessional and as Jerry wrote, diminishes their credibility. The key aspect of this case is the improvement of Taiwan’s judicial system. I don’t see how this improves anything.

    Allen, in #37 you attacked the messenger but not the message. I also don’t understand your analogy about speeding. If a cop doesn’t ticket me for speeding at the time, I am in no danger of being ticketed later. But if someone breaks the law by stealing money from the government, there is no time limit on the crime. Are you trying to say there was never any “black gold” in the KMT? Again, how many KMT politicians have been convicted for that offense? When Ma was tried for basically the same offense, why wasn’t he held in jail? Wasn’t there the same chance that he would collaborate with others before the trial? Why was one different from the other? Why did the KMT dominated legislature wait to change the law until after Chen’s trial? Why do they want to change the law to allow what Chen did to be legal in the future? Why aren’t they saying that no one should be able to keep these government funds? Are they trying to legalize taking government funds for personal use? Shouldn’t those funds be used for their intended purpose?

    It seems to me that this was formerly an accepted “slush fund” everyone used in the same way, but in Chen’s case he was singled out for prosecution because of his political position. They could have handled this in two way; either convict Chen but also convict every other politician who did the same thing, or only go after Chen for the money laundering charges. By trying to have it both ways, the prosecution lost credibility.

    As far as the changing the judge, the former judge let Chen out on bail, resulting in great clamor from the KMT to change the judge. As soon as the new judge was brought in, Chen’s bail was revoked and he went to jail. Did the law suddenly change? Why did the new judge do exactly what the KMT politicians had been demanding? Why was the old judge replaced? Until these questions can be answered satisfactorily, it’s difficult to believe that justice in Taiwan is impartial.

  58. Allen Says:

    @Steve #57, Jerry #56,

    About the skit – I really don’t understand the big deal unless you are talking innuendos and conspiracy. The skit did not show “professionalism” in the sense of bad marketing. There is no evidence it affected the quality of work of the prosecutors. Prosecutors have a right to have whatever opinions they want on the side. They technically should have freedom of speech like everyone else. The skit made for good story – but does not say anything about “bias” in the prosecutor’s work.

    Steve, I did not attack the messenger in #37. It’s standard law practice to cite the source of the info. You cite them as legitimate sources; I qualify these these as mere opinions – deeming no more deference than NY Times. That’s not attacking the messenger. (unlike opinions of scientists on science, which should be accorded some deference; opinions of mere lawyers / professors – i.e. non judges – on law are just that – opinions; the only thing they could give that is worth any weight is the black letter law, which was not the subject of the papers cited)

    Steve – you also write:

    I also don’t understand your analogy about speeding. If a cop doesn’t ticket me for speeding at the time, I am in no danger of being ticketed later. But if someone breaks the law by stealing money from the government, there is no time limit on the crime. Are you trying to say there was never any “black gold” in the KMT? Again, how many KMT politicians have been convicted for that offense? When Ma was tried for basically the same offense, why wasn’t he held in jail? Wasn’t there the same chance that he would collaborate with others before the trial? Why was one different from the other? Why did the KMT dominated legislature wait to change the law until after Chen’s trial? Why do they want to change the law to allow what Chen did to be legal in the future? Why aren’t they saying that no one should be able to keep these government funds? Are they trying to legalize taking government funds for personal use? Shouldn’t those funds be used for their intended purpose?

    Now I really don’t follow. What are you trying to say? I thought the speeding ticket analogy was perfectly clear. Most of the questions you ask I have already answered in the above comments. I don’t know why you re-ask them again as if we are at the beginning of the thread… Perhaps I am just an inarticulate buffoon…

    As for singling out Chen, I suppose everyone is entitled to their own opinion / conspiracy theories.

  59. Jason Says:

    @ Steve

    At your Obama’s birth certificate analogy, there’s some believe that the certificate that was shown to the public is Birth certificate not the Certificate of Live Birth which is in Hawaii’s vault.

    Since you don’t believe what I say and doesn’t agree, assume Chen didn’t fake the assassination attempt, Chen nevertheless issued an illegal and unconstitutional Emergency Decree, mobilizing 300,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, MPs, and police officers.

    Perhaps I should say “immobilizing” 300,000 military and police personnel. These citizens of the ROC were ordered to remain on duty all day election day, denying them their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. Leaving to vote was inconceivable. Anyone caught abandoning his post would have been subjected to the harshest possible punishment under military rather than civilian law.

    The Republic of China’s military and police personnel are predominantly true blue KMT/NP/PFP voters. Their political loyalties are well-known to everyone on the island, Green and Blue alike. The Officer Corps in particular are deeply loyal to the Republic of China, to the ROC Constitution, to Sun Yat-sen’s Three People’s Principles, and consider Taiwan independence treason. Their 300,000 votes are 10 times the number of Chen’s “official” winning margin.

  60. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To me, what the prosecutors do on their own time is their own business. That being said, I don’t think Mr. Starr would’ve donned a little blue Gap dress just for giggles during the Clinton impeachment. Perhaps there’s a difference in what’s considered to be in good taste. Then again, one isn’t likely to see line brawls and shoes being thrown in the US Congress, so some things are just different.

    To Jason:
    “there’s some believe that the certificate that was shown to the public is Birth certificate not the Certificate of Live Birth which is in Hawaii’s vault.”
    —I think those first 3 words say it all. There’s probably similar belief in Area 51, UFO’s, and Martians.

    As for those on duty personnel of which you speak, were there arrangements made to allow them to vote? Early voting, perhaps? Absentee voting, maybe? Both those mechanisms are widely available in the US and Canada, but I don’t know about Taiwan. If all those people had no alternate means of voting simply by virtue of being on duty, then that’s a problem. But if arrangements had been made, then your last 2 paragraphs are pointless.

  61. Jason Says:

    @SKC:

    No Taiwan doesn’t have absentee ballots.

    More can be read here: http://old.npf.org.tw/PUBLICATION/NS/092/NS-C-092-262.htm

  62. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jason,

    thanks for the link. Wow, Taiwan does seem like a weird place at times. No absentee voting because of “laziness”, and because there wouldn’t have been enough votes to make a difference? Jeez, someone should tell Montana to not bother with the whole election business in 2012.

    But was early voting, or some other mechanism, facilitated to allow those 300k personnel on duty to cast their ballots in the election you were referring to?

  63. Steve Says:

    Ah Jason, now we are in agreement! :)

    I was just talking about the assassination attempt. I agree with you that keeping the military on alert was wrong. My question to you, and this is not rhetorical since I don’t know the answer, is that if it was illegal and unconstitutional, why didn’t the courts immediately step in and cancel the decree? The courts were certainly not under the sway of Chen at the time.

  64. Jerry Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #60

    “To me, what the prosecutors do on their own time is their own business.” In general, I agree. But this seems to have been a prosecutors’ office party gone wild. Where are the videos? Well, here is the Ah-bian skit performed by prosecutors. Sorry, guys, no naked girls. That will be in the next edition of “Prosecutors Gone Wild!”; coming soon to your neighborhood video store.

    As Cohen said:

    The Harvard Law School mentor of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that his former student needed to act urgently to prevent an “increasingly disturbing circus atmosphere” from prejudicing his predecessor’s right to a fair trial.

    Jerome Cohen’s comments to The Associated Press follow last week’s biting skit that mocked former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), performed by prosecutors at a dinner celebrating “Law Day,” which was attended by Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰), judges and other members of the legal community.

    SK, there are lots of roasts in the US. Everyone is usually invited and everyone is fair game. There is usually lots of sarcasm and plenty of self-effacing humor. They are funny. And fun.

    Ken Starr in a blue dress. Wow. Maybe it is time for a remake of Walter Mosley’s “Devil in a Blue Dress”. Ken can play Daphne Monet, Barack Obama can play EZ Rollins and Morgan Freeman can play Mouse.

    Line brawls. Ah, hockey night. Here they just have fist-fights, screaming, fist-pumping, trash-talking, hair-pulling and blockading podiums with chairs, while the participants are dressed in traditional ceremonial garb. And skits by prosecutors on Law Day. (They could have least waited until Skit Day.) The sensibilities and sense of propriety seem to be much different here.

  65. Jason Says:

    @ Steve

    I don’t know about the court in favor of KMT since none of their complaints were successful.

    The faux assassination and 300K officers unable to vote was just a tip of the iceberg.

    One other thing Central Election Committee was in bed of DPP and Chen Shiu Bian.

    Note: Chen Shui-bian illegally “linked” his “defensive referenda” to his presidential re-election campaign. Unfortunately for Chen, his successful linkage of the two events is a sword that cuts both ways. It also reveals how the Chen-controlled Central Election Committee “adjusted” the final numbers in order to steal the election.

    “Official” Chen administration-controlled Central Election Committee Figures

    Voter Turnout: 13,251,719

    Lien/Soong Election Ballots: 6,442,452
    Chen/Lu Election Ballots: 6,471,970

    “Spoiled Election Ballots”: 337,297 [The Magic Number — triple the number for the 2000 Presidential Election]

    Referendum One Ballots: 7,452,340
    Referendum Two Ballots: 7,444,148

    The Presidential Election and Referendum One

    A. Voters who cast presidential ballots, but didn’t cast Referendum One ballots: 5,799,379
    B. Voters who cast Referendum One ballots, but who didn’t vote for Chen: 980,370

    Add A to B:
    5,799,379 + 980,370 = 6,779,749
    Logically, these are Lien/Soong votes.

    Subtract the Magic Number, the Central Election Committee’s “Spoiled Election Ballots”:
    6,779,749 – 337,297 = 6,442,452
    and one miraculously winds up with the “official” total for Lien/Soong!

    If that wasn’t miraculous enough for you, let’s look at Referendum Two.

    The Presidential Election and Referendum Two

    C. Voters who cast presidential ballots, but didn’t cast Referendum Two ballots: 5,807,571
    D. Voters who cast Referendum Two ballots, but who didn’t vote for Chen: 972,178

    Add C to D:
    5,807,571 + 972,178 = 6,779,749
    Logically, these are also Lien/Soong votes. The same total again!

    Again, subtract the Magic Number, the Central Election Committee’s “Spoiled Election Ballots”:
    6,779,749 – 337,297 = 6,442,452
    and again one winds up with the “official” total for Lien/Soong!

  66. Chops Says:

    #59 “The Republic of China’s military and police personnel are predominantly true blue KMT/NP/PFP voters.”

    Thanks to Ma, Taiwan’s military post-Morakot mission is less offence and more civil defence.
    I guess a Chinese province shouldn’t be having its own military.

    http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1058112&lang=eng_news&cate_img=46.jpg&cate_rss=news_Editorial

    Moreover, Ma’s decision to accept the so-called “Consensus of 1992″ and the implied acquiescence to Beijing’s “one China principle” has both further reduced Taiwan’s bargaining chips in cross-strait negotiations and brings into question why Washington should sell advanced weaponry to Taiwan if Taipei is open to eventual unification with the PRC, in which case the final destination and use of the advanced military technology embodied in the upgraded fighters and submarines may be open to question.

  67. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jerry:
    If “Prosecutors Gone Wild” is going to be made from the “Girls Gone Wild” blueprint, then it’s going to feature a lot of naked prosecutors. If that’s in a video store, it should be in the “horror” aisle…and I think I’ll give it a pass.

  68. Jason Says:

    @ Chops

    Another fear tactic editorial from DPP’s mouthpiece.

    One China, 2 politic system means:

    Taiwan:
    *Not to become a foreign country.
    *not to become a nominally “independent” nation that is in fact a military forward base for Japanese and US imperialists and a critical link in a strategic ring of containment along China’s eastern seaboard.

    *Beijing does not want to have to occupy Taiwan.
    *Beijing don’t need the hassle of being responsible for it.
    *But if Taiwan independence zealots force their hand, they will act.

  69. Jerry Says:

    In #64, I included a link to a youtube video which showed the prosecutor’s Law Day skit on Ah-bian, Ah-bian skit performed by prosecutors. Well, I showed it to my girlfriend, who is from Taipei. Her comment, “What do you expect! The politicians, judges and prosecutors are fools and they are all basically the same people!” This has not been a rare comment in the last 2 years I have been here. This is not a rare comment from my Taiwanese friends who live in Seattle. In fact, the typical comment is just that, “Our politicians and government officials are all idiots and we have just come to expect this kind of behavior. We ignore it for the most part.”

    So, the political, governmental and judicial scene here has a plethora of buffoons, clowns, fools and caricatures. Just one big freak show! I was going to say circus, but I like circuses. I like clowns. So if I have insulted any clowns or circus performers by comparing them to politicians, I am sorry. It is just a figure of speech. :D

    My big problem here, I think, is that I have a sense of propriety which I find lacking in the political sphere. I find that most of the people I encounter here have a sense of propriety. I think the wonderful Taiwanese people deserve better. But they will not get better until they insist on better.

    Thinking about our original US presidents, I wonder how the Taiwanese presidents measure up to those great leaders. How do the two Chiangs, Lee, Chen and Ma measure up to the likes of Washington, the 2 Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe? My offhand guess is that Taiwanese presidents, for the most part, do not measure up at all, or miserably at best. BTW, I purposely picked only original US presidents because I felt it fruitless to thrown in Lincoln, Polk, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Harry Truman and Ike. No point setting the bar too high at this point. I also know little about Lee; the fact that he was thrown out of the KMT and his push for independence may speak well for him.

  70. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #58

    You wrote,

    @Steve #57, Jerry #56,

    About the skit – I really don’t understand the big deal unless you are talking innuendos and conspiracy. The skit did not show “professionalism” in the sense of bad marketing. There is no evidence it affected the quality of work of the prosecutors. Prosecutors have a right to have whatever opinions they want on the side. They technically should have freedom of speech like everyone else. The skit made for good story – but does not say anything about “bias” in the prosecutor’s work.

    As I said before, I don’t think like an attorney, and you, as an attorney, do think like one. Furthermore, I don’t want to think like an attorney. You also earlier wrote, “The law sometimes obfuscates rather than illuminates.” And so do attorneys. I would also add evasiveness and equivocation.

    Let me bring in several words here. Opprobrium, ethics and integrity. If you operate without ethics and integrity, you may bring opprobrium to yourself, and in the case of this skit, to the profession. I would imagine that many non-lawyers can see this so easily here. All I hear from you are equivocations, excuses and evasiveness. If I behaved in such a manner, I would expect derision and scorn. I would expect to be fired.

    You try to evade the question by throwing in “innuendos”, “conspiracy”, free thinking and freedom of speech. I don’t know where this came from because I never said innuendos and conspiracy. I believe in free speech and freedom of thought; it is one of my big problems with China. I also believe in responsibility, ethics and integrity.

    All I get from your discussion is that this is perfectly ok with you. Maybe this is why I don’t ever want to think like an attorney or be one. All that said, I have friends in the US who are attorneys whom I trust, admire and respect greatly.

  71. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #58 & Jerry #70: Freedom of speech is on your own time, but this party was related to their profession. You really can’t see this as unprofessional? I find it blatantly unprofessional and could see someone getting fired for doing so. When you prosecute someone, you don’t do it from personal prejudices but because you are upholding the law. I can just imagine what Socrates would have taught about ethics if he had witnessed this. :P

    Oh well, I guess we’ll just disagree on this one. I wasn’t talking innuendo or conspiracy, I was talking about behaving in a professional, ethical manner to bring respect to your office and uphold the confidence of the Taiwanese people. This was just political partisanship. The people who hated Chen loved the skit and saw nothing wrong with it, while the people who liked Chen saw everything wrong with it. I didn’t care for Chen but since I’m not Taiwanese nor living in Taiwan, I also didn’t have any emotional investment in what happened. I just look at it from an outsiders POV and see it as just another embarrassment to Taiwan and no different from fistfights in the legislature.

    In #37, you said the piece was biased but you never said why. Where’s the bias? What is the reason for the bias? If anything, Cohen should be biased towards his old student Ma, shouldn’t he? Cohen was an outside observer who gave his opinion on the case and how the handling of it would be perceived in the legal world. The other two outside observers said basically the same thing. It didn’t sound like a law review to me. How was it biased?

    If you’re referring to your answer in #22, how did the prosecutors know whether Ma would create a cover up before the trial? What you’re arguing is that because Ma was found not guilty, nothing that happened before that verdict makes a difference. So why should Chen’s case be any different? If letting Chen out of jail could have led to his collaborating with others to create a defense, who is to say that Ma didn’t do exactly that?

    Today Diane Lee was indicted on fraud charges for hiding US citizenship while holding office in Taiwan over 11 years. She earned roughly $100 million NT (US $3 million) in that time.

    The Taipei Times reported that “The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) criticized the ­prosecutors for being lenient on Diane Lee by charging her with fraud and forgery and not corruption. The law stipulates that when a suspect is convicted of corruption or money laundering, the illegal income will be retrieved automatically. However, in fraud cases, if the offender refuses to return the income of his or her own accord, the government must file a civil lawsuit to reclaim the illegal income.

    “The way the prosecutors handled the case was they turned big problems into small ones and then the small ones will turn into no problem at all,” DPP Spokesman Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said, adding that the party found the charges in the indictment unacceptable.”

    Why isn’t Diane Lee in jail? Isn’t there a chance she could flee the country? Why wasn’t she charged with corruption where the money would be retrieved automatically? You don’t see a double standard here?

    As far as the speeding analogy, why don’t we just use another one instead. Twenty six KMT officials commit murder but are not prosecuted. Chen Shui Bian commits manslaughter and is prosecuted, convicted and given the death sentence. The KMT supporters say that this will be a deterrent to potential murderers but there is no reason to prosecute the twenty six officials because that was in the past in another era. The new prosecutions start from now on. Oh, and now let’s pass a law making manslaughter legal.

  72. Allen Says:

    @Jerrry #70,

    The innuendos and conspiracy aptly describes what people are saying here – lots of citations of irregularities or sensational stories as implications that justice was not served. As for freedom of speech, freedom of speech is just that. Prosecutors need not have ZERO political affiliations. They can feel whatever they want and say whatever they want – provided they don’t let that interfere with judicial efficacy. If now we want – for political reasons – to have prosecutors dress nice and not say or do certain things in public, fine – let’s make a rule for that. But there not one iota of evidence that justice was not served as a result of personal skits on the side.

    As for whether I think everything is perfectly ok in Taiwan – well no. I agree with most of what you write in #69 in principle: politics in Taiwan sucks and is dumb – which is one reason I usually stay away from Taiwan politics here on this board. Taiwan politics does not really elucidate anything of value as far as this board is concerned. For me, I comment about Taiwan as a side show here. It’s a circus that will continue and continue for a while – so we might as well enjoy the “entertainment” while it lasts. Someone here mentioned that Taiwan is undergoing its own version of cultural revolution once. That may be true. We’ll see.

    So what do I see as wrong in Taiwan? It’s the politicization in the populace of all and every thing in Taiwan: newspaper, media, dinner conversation, taxi driver conversation, judicial trials, storm rescues, food safety, jobs, economy, children’s green cards, etc., etc. It’s tiring and depressing.

    This trial – if you look at it from a legal perspective – does not show anything wrong. The judiciary has been given a free reign; the prosecution has been aggressive. Judged alone – it’s a very good trial. The only thing wrong is people politicizing the trail to make their own political points.

    In this case both Ma and Chen have been aggressively investigated – Ma while Chen was president, and Chen while Ma is president. The different result doesn’t necessarily mean there has been a conspiracy again Chen – it could simply mean that Chen is guilty while Ma is innocent. Conspiracy theories can be sort of interesting – in a political drama kind of way. But again, that’s what’s wrong with Taiwan today…

  73. Allen Says:

    @Steve #71,

    About professionalism of prosecutors – we’ll just leave it at that. I’m all for creating more rules on what is proper and what is not for prosecutors to do in public. I am just against people inferring that unprofessionalism (in someone’s eyes) equate to miscarriage of justice.

    Your many questions on the details of trial is good. In truth, if you must compare across trials, there will always be “irregularities.” This happens because no two trials involve the same circumstances; no two trials involve the same judicial players. There is a lot of leeway when judging the facts that we call judicial discretion. Given judges discretion goes to the heart of the concept of “judicial independence.” Nothing is predeterminate in law. Perhaps the differences was due to real substantive difference in circumstances, perhaps there were some difference in the evidence, perhaps there was a difference in the way the lawyers litigated the issues, perhaps there was a difference in the way the judge or even clerks saw the issues … etc., etc.

    Of course, it may also be possible that politicians were able to pull strings behind the scenes to ensure that Ma got a free ride while Chen did not. Sure – that is a possibility one may infer. (note however that Ma was prosecuted while Chen was president and DPP was in power; pulling this would really have to require great political dexterity) But when there are so many possibility, being fixated on one – political intrigue – for me borders on conspiracy speculation.

    Nothing wrong with conspiracy theories. They are juicy, sensationalist, and can sometimes turn out to be right!

    Now – about Chen’s fake shooting… ;-)

  74. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #73: I wasn’t saying that there was a miscarriage of justice, just talking about appearances, professionalism and ethics. I honestly don’t know if there was a miscarriage of justice or not. I’ve been trying to think of a recent example when someone was fired for saying something related to their job, claimed freedom of speech and lost the case. I just can’t remember that specific example to use as a reference, but suffice to say that there are limits on freedom of speech.

    One judge’s bias doesn’t involve conspiracy theories, it just involves one judge. For Chen to have pulled off a fake shooting, so many people would have to have been involved that pulling it off would have been… well… impossible. That’s the Occam’s razor test. How is replacing one judge for no given reason whose judgments aren’t popular with the ruling party and having that judge replaced with another judge whose judgments are very popular with the ruling party, in any way a conspiracy?

    Here’s a short conspiracy story. Back in the ’60s, CBS News heard all those JFK conspiracy theories and figured if they could show there was a conspiracy, it’d be the biggest story of the 20th century! So they literally spent a fortune in today’s dollars trying to prove it. What they ended up with was that their findings agreed with the Warren Commission report; no conspiracy. But even today, there are still many (including Oliver Stone) who still believe there was a conspiracy. Especially when it comes to politics, there are just too many leaks for conspiracies to have any substance. When someone tries to pull off something even on a minor scale, they usually get caught and talk like jaybirds.

    If politicians were able to hold secrets, there’d be no news leaks. :P

  75. Steve Says:

    @ Jason #68: Your answer sounds like another fear tactic editorial from CCP’s mouthpiece. (I’m just imitating your sarcasm)

    Seriously, just how are Japan and the US using Taiwan in an imperialist manner? How many Japanese or American troops are stationed in Taiwan? How many Japanese or US naval vessels home port in Taiwan?

    Sorry to disappoint you, but Taiwan is already a “foreign” country in every way except legally and is more than nominally independent at this time. That’s why the Chinese want “reunification”. Beijing wants the Hong Kong solution for Taiwan. Whose troops are in Hong Kong? Who is responsible for Hong Kong? China has already passed a law saying they can act without independence zealots forcing their hand. Did you forget about that one?

    China wants reunification to be reunification, not some legal mumbo jumbo. That’s the purpose of reunification. The people who support reunification want true reunification, not the conditions you mention.

    How much time have you spent in Taiwan talking to actual Taiwanese people? One thing I learned while living over there is that Taiwanese and Taiwanese Americans have very different ideas about Taiwan and Taiwan’s relationship with China. Taiwanese whose families came from China in 1949 are a minority in Taiwan but a majority of Taiwanese Americans (excluding Allen’s, of course) and have a different POV from the majority of Taiwanese. Even Allen will tell you that his family in Taiwan holds different views from his own. Until China begins to understand what the Taiwanese people think and addresses their concerns, their hopes of reunification will remain dim. They’re doing better than before but the true test will come when a non-KMT party assumes political power. Their ability to deal with that party will indicate if peaceful reunification is indeed possible.

    I’d also advise against putting too much credence in Taiwan media. They are hopelessly biased on the extremes. Most Taiwanese people are somewhere in the middle and very embarrassed with the performance of the majority of their political leaders and the quality of their media.

  76. Allen Says:

    @Steve #74,

    If the point you have been making all along are social and political observations – I have no quarrel.

    As for court procedures, I will repeat what I wrote earlier – judge switches happen often – for a myriad of reasons. The KMT did not order judges to be replaced. All we know is that a few vocal KMT politicians threatened to look into the background of Judge Chou and that the panel of judges later replaced Chou. This is a judiciary decision. I give deference to the judiciary in their own procedures. No competent judge is going to back down simply because of threats to look into the background of a judge – so I am not too concerned about KMT “firing” a competent judge.

  77. Steve Says:

    Hi Allen~

    Yes, my points are all social and political observations. I don’t believe it’s possible to comment about actual legal proceedings unless I attend every day of the trial.

    I’m reminded of the OJ Simpson trial where after the verdict was read, everyone was incensed but my best friend in college, who is the Public Defender in Paterson, NJ, told me the verdict in advance and said all the attorneys in his office agreed with it. The key witness was Barry Scheck, who was the foremost authority in the country on DNA evidence (police procedures are based on his advice) and completely destroyed the prosecution’s DNA evidence because it was mishandled. My friend told me that in light of the evidence, the jury made the correct decision since there was a reasonable doubt. He also predicted they Simpson would lose a civil suit. But people watching the five or ten minute news updates really had no idea of how the evidence was presented, handled or countered, so their opinions were uninformed. That’s why I try to stay away from forming opinions on legal cases.

    You wrote “for a myriad of reasons” but I still haven’t read a reason for the change. Is it common for a new judge to completely reverse the decision of a former judge with no new information presented? That’s what looks suspicious.

  78. Allen Says:

    @Steve #77,

    You said you don’t want to judge because you don’t attend legal proceedings yet you want me to justify the judge change?

    OK, I don’t have any insider’s knowledge or perspective. All I know is that consolidation of cases, changing of judges, changing of venues – these are all “normal” even if “irregular” (i.e. not predetermined). People can complain that some proecedure is going to doom their case and that justice is not served, but that’s absurd. Unless something is shown to be explicitly prejudicial, you take your chances with the judiciary. If you only want Judge Chou but not Tsai, for example, then others can second guess whether you are in bed with Judge Chou. If Chou will give justice but Tsai will not, then state the reason why Tsai is prejudicial.

    As long it’s within the privy of the rules, the judiciary had a right to do whatever it sees fit. The judiciary does not answer to the legilature, nor president, nor even popular opinion.

    If people are going to complain about the replacement of Judge Chou by Tsai, remember also that Judge Tsai had worked on Chen’s cases before, and that many KMT politicians were very, very concerned about the switch to Tsai at the time since Tsai was considered to have been too lenient with Chen before.

  79. Allen Says:

    Steve – you asked in #77 – “Is it common for a new judge to completely reverse the decision of a former judge with no new information presented?”

    It’s not quite what you say, but what happened is within rules. And I have to say – in the U.S. – it happens all the time. If Chen’s case does not involve Chen, no one neutral – not the most liberal legal aid advocate – will raise a stink about the judge change.

  80. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #78: Yes, I wanted you to justify it as a matter of normal procedure and not specifically to this case. I would think judicial procedure can be commented upon in a general way since it should be consistent.

    You wrote, “The judiciary does not answer to the legislature, nor president, nor even popular opinion.” That depends on the country, doesn’t it? In many countries, the judiciary is certainly controlled or influenced by the legislature, president or party. I have no way of knowing how far Taiwan’s judicial system has progressed to know whether your statement is true or not. After all, Jason says that Chen controlled the Central Election Committee, so isn’t it possible that some faction of the KMT could control the judiciary involved in this case? And if Tsai was considered by them to be too lenient in the past to Chen, wouldn’t control of that judiciary mean a replacement of Tsai?

    The key difference in this case as compared to other cases in Taiwan or even cases in the United States is that the former President of the country is involved. Think about it this way, the government arrests George W. Bush and brings him to trial, something many Democrats want. In pre-trial proceedings, the presiding judge makes some rulings the Democrats feel are favorable to Bush and suddenly this judge is replaced for no specific reason and the new judge immediately changes the rulings to what the Democrats had wanted. This isn’t some 3rd rate burglary, this is the trial of a former President. Do you think people here would just say, “Ah well, no big deal” because it is “within the rules”? Sure, if that happened the rabid Democrats would love the rulings and rabid Republicans would scream bloody murder, but most moderate, non-partisan and independent people would consider the trial and conviction to be tainted.

  81. Raj Says:

    Allen (78)

    All I know is that consolidation of cases, changing of judges, changing of venues – these are all “normal” even if “irregular” (i.e. not predetermined).

    How many Taiwanese corruption cases have you heard of where the judge was replaced for no reason other than he made a decision that some people found controversial? Not that he was found to have been bribed, had a conflict of interest, etc. Just some people didn’t like what he did.

    It might be “normal” in the US, but I don’t think it is in Taiwan for cases like this one.

    (79)

    If Chen’s case does not involve Chen, no one – not the most liberal legal aid advocate – will raise a stink about the judge change.

    That is not true. In any case where there was a suspicion that the charges were politically-motivated, a change in the judge who then immediately reversed his predecessor’s decision would be noticed and suspected. The size of the stink would depend on the individual, but I can imagine other politicians, members of the business community, civil activists, etc could also gain coverage.

    In any case the reason there was a stink over Chen is that he is a former president – you don’t get more important than that. If a former president can have his case significantly manipulated by his enemies, anyone could receive the same treatment – there’d be no rule of law then. That’s why there’s a stink. If Chen doesn’t receive a fair trial, there’s no reason why anyone else would be guaranteed one.

    Steve (74)

    I agree that appearances are key. I think some people here take the “he’s guilty, so who cares how he was convicted” approach. Of course that’s fundamentally wrong, because even if he is guilty there’s no way of always being sure. If you can’t be sure, the way the case is run has to be fair.

    Otherwise people will be punished for something they haven’t done. Perhaps the proponents of “sentence first, verdict later” would like to be one of the “judicial errors” that would result from the system they advocate?

  82. Allen Says:

    @Steve #80,

    The quote you quote from me is a statement of ideal – not of fact. I do not know what is the situation in Taiwan. No one knows. I think someone (SKC probably) mention that had this case been against Chen while another DPP was in power – or against a high KMT official while Ma is in power – that would go a lot to show to people that the judiciary is indeed independent. We’ll just have to wait and see…

    @Raj #81,
    I might have not been clear – when I said change of venue, judges, etc. is “normal” – I meat in typical lawsuits. I don’t mean they are normal in lawsuits again big wigs. For me, trials against big wigs should be treated just like trials against nobodys – at least if you really believe in the concept that no one is above the law.

  83. Allen Says:

    @Steve #80,

    About your standard of when a trial becomes “tainted” – I submit all trials are tainted. Appeals are made all the time on grounds that some procedural mistakes were made (appeals court in general do not review evidence de novo; usually you appeal by showing some “mistakes” or “irregularities” were made). So many things happen in trials that there are always some bones to pick, and what you pick on depends on how desperate you are.

  84. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: Ha ha, now you sound like a lawyer! ;)

  85. Allen Says:

    @Steve #84,

    Of course – all for our client’s sake…

    If I were Chen’s attorney, I’d be crying foul all the way to the bank, too!

  86. Jason Says:

    @Steve: 75

    I guess you don’t know the US military base in Okinawa. It has been directed at China more than it has at Russia.

  87. Steve Says:

    @ Jason #86: Okinawa is located in Japan; we were talking about Taiwan. I’ve worked with the US Military bases (there are a few) in Okinawa in the past. They’re not directed at China in particular, they’re one of the main ports of the Pacific Fleet (along with Marine bases) in that part of the world, along with the naval bases near Tokyo and the big Air Force base in Iwakuni south of Hiroshima, and directed at any potential threat in that part of the world.

    In the past, their main focus was the USSR and North Korea. Then some Chinese general threatened to nuke Los Angeles back in the ’90s and the focus changed. I wonder why?

    If the US removes its military bases from Japan, it’d be because the Japanese have rebuilt their military forces and established a nuclear deterrent. Believe me, China likes the situation the way it is.

    So again I’ll ask you, just how are Japan and the US using Taiwan in an imperialist manner? How many Japanese or American troops are stationed in Taiwan? How many Japanese or US naval vessels home port in Taiwan?

  88. Jason Says:

    @Steve

    Yes I am aware that Okinawa is in Japan. My point was that in Feb 19, 2005, the US and Japan had an joint agreement that security in the Taiwan Strait is a “common strategic objective”–that being said if Taiwan declares independence, it openly placed Taiwan under the U.S.-Japan defense umbrella. The two imperialist, using Taiwan (if it is Independent), are aiming to curb China’s growing military and economic influence in the region through the Okinawa base.

    US petty excuse is that China’s military is a threat is more of a propaganda than exaggeration.
    http://nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=21258
    http://original.antiwar.com/eland/2009/04/10/chinas-threat-to-the-us-is-exaggerated/
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/KC31Ad01.html
    http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/21171

  89. Steve Says:

    @ Jason: The U.S. has maintained the “One China” policy for many years, and is only obligated to defend Taiwan in the case of China attacking Taiwan and attempting to reunify by force. If Taiwan declares independence, they’re on their own.

    Security in the Taiwan Strait has been US policy for the last 60 years. And how does this make the U.S. imperialist? Again, how many US military personnel are stationed on Taiwan? How many Japanese military personnel? Does the U.S. control the government in Taiwan? The Taiwanese don’t even seem to be able to control the government in Taiwan.

    Do you know the definition of imperialism? It’s the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies. None of these apply to Taiwan. They have a defense treaty.

    Listing a bunch of blog articles or editorial opinions is all well and good, but there are just as many on the other side. What’s the point? A nation’s military doesn’t prepare for just tomorrow’s war, they prepare for future wars. That’s also how it works with China’s military.

  90. Jerry Says:

    @Jason #88, @Steve #89

    I am with Steve. What is your point, Jason? I would say that China is imperialist and that is the prime reason for the joint agreement. You think that the US and Japan made the agreement for giggles? I don’t think so.

    The joint agreement between US and Japan makes me feel much safer, especially considering that I live in Taipei. If that agreement makes the US and Japan imperialists in your book, I can live with that. No-brainer.

    Checks and balances, ain’t they wonderful? Aren’t petty excuses wonderful? Again, you think that the US and Japan made the agreement for giggles? I don’t think so.

  91. Wukailong Says:

    @To people using the word imperialism: Imperialism doesn’t in itself mean “Western evil” or “splitting our mother country”. It means, in line with what Steve said, using force to extend a country’s power and influence. This applies to many countries, not just the US.

  92. Jason Says:

    @ Steve

    What about US arms and missile defense sold to Taiwan?

    This is why I call this act imperialist. Why can Taiwan make their own since DPP likes to brag their economy is the best than China’s.

    Taiwan Relations Act makes US imperialists to Taiwan. The Taiwan Relations Act, United States Code Title 22 Chapter 48, enacted 10 April 1979, was an Act of Congress. It is domestic US law. It is not an international treaty.

    Does domestic American legislation, enacted unilaterally by the US government without the consent of the Chinese people, legitimize US abetting of ethnic secessionists undermining China’s territorial integrity?

    In case the answer isn’t immediately obvious, let me turn the question around.

    Would domestic Chinese legislation, enacted unilaterally by the PRC government without the consent of the American people, legitimize PRC abetting of ethnic secessionists undermining America’s territorial integrity?

  93. Steve Says:

    @ Jason: Under your definition, China is imperialist because it sells arms to Pakistan, Sudan, etc. However, that is not the definition of imperialism. This explanation of yours reminds me of Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass”:

    `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’

    Didn’t you notice that when the U.S. said it would sell arms to Taiwan during the Chen administration and the KMT dominated legislature wouldn’t pass the authorization, Taiwan didn’t receive any arms? How is this imperialist when it takes an agreement from both sides plus money from Taiwan to purchase the weapons? China buys arms from Russia. Does that mean Russia is imperialist and controls China? What is the difference from China buying arms from Russia or Taiwan buying arms from the States?

    The Taiwan Relations Act doesn’t obligate Taiwan to do anything, therefore it cannot be imperialist. It is simply a statement of the U.S.’s obligation to Taiwan upon its recognition of the PRC. You might want to read it sometime since it’s pretty obvious you have no idea what it actually says.

    “Does domestic American legislation, enacted unilaterally by the US government without the consent of the Chinese people, legitimize US abetting of ethnic secessionists undermining China’s territorial integrity?”

    I have no idea what this sentence means. Did you copy it from somewhere? It doesn’t make any sense. Do you realize that Chinese legislation is enacted unilaterally by the Chinese government? And that Bolivian legislation is enacted unilaterally by the Bolivian government? Do you think governments need the consent of other governments to enact legislation? If they did, then they’d be under imperialist domination. Since Taiwanese legislation is enacted unilaterally by the Taiwanese government, imperialism doesn’t apply.

    “Would domestic Chinese legislation, enacted unilaterally by the PRC government without the consent of the American people, legitimize PRC abetting of ethnic secessionists undermining America’s territorial integrity?”

    This sentence also makes no sense. What ethnic secessionists are you talking about? You can’t possibly mean Taiwan, since Taiwan isn’t governed by the Chinese government. It has it’s own government, legislature, currency, passports… in fact, it has everything except international recognition. Tell you what, try using a Chinese passport to get into Taiwan without having a visa and tell me what happens. That’s why Taiwan is said to have “de facto” independence but not “de jure” independence. And that’s why the majority of Taiwanese want to keep things the way they currently are.

    Jason, have you ever been to Taiwan? Do you have any idea what you’re talking about? If you want to discuss politics, you might want to read up on them first. I majored in Political Science and enjoy political discussions, provided the person I’m discussing politics with has some understanding of the subject. From what you’ve written, you appear to have none.

    So Jason, I’ve asked you the same questions three times and you still haven’t answered them. It’s hard to discuss an issue with someone who keeps avoiding the issue.

    So I’ll ask you for the FOURTH time, just how are Japan and the US using Taiwan in an imperialist manner? How many Japanese or American troops are stationed in Taiwan? How many Japanese or US naval vessels home port in Taiwan? Why do you keep avoiding the initial topic? Can’t you just answer my questions?

  94. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jason:
    “Taiwan Relations Act makes US imperialists to Taiwan. The Taiwan Relations Act, United States Code Title 22 Chapter 48, enacted 10 April 1979, was an Act of Congress. It is domestic US law. It is not an international treaty.”
    —ok, so Congress has outlined how she will interact with Taiwan. That makes the US “imperialist”? Are you serious, dude?

    As Steve points out, your 2 questions are meaningless. On a weird guess-what-I’m-thinking /alternate universe interpretation of those questions, the answer would simply be No to both. Legitimacy is conferred onto you by others, and not something you can bestow on yourself. The US can’t legislate its own legitimacy, nor that of its actions; and neither can China.

  95. Allen Says:

    @WKL, SKC, Jerry, Steve, Jason

    I think I’m sympathetic to Jason’s argument on the imperialism stuff.

    I will start with WKL’s definition: imperialism is the use of or threat of use of force to extend a country’s power and influence.

    The Taiwan Act (potentially) binds the U.S. to come to aid of Taiwan militarily should Taiwan and Mainland China gets into a military confrontation.

    This Act by itself inherently interferes with Chinese sovereignty if you believe in the one China principle. Imagine if Russia signing into law that should a military conflict arise between the state of California and the U.S. federal gov’t, Russia will come to the aid of California – how Americans would interpret that act. Or even more apt, imagine if during or even just after the American Civil War, some European country signs into law that should military conflict occur between the North and some Southern State, that European country would come to the aid of the Southern State…

    By using the threat of force to interfere with Chinese domestic affairs, the U.S. – through the use of Taiwan Relations Act – is interfering with Chinese sovereignty in a worst imperialistic manner.

    One way one can argue U.S. is not being imperialistic is if you really believe that Taiwan – ROC – is the real China – or at least a legitimate equal of the PRC. In that case, it may be argued that the Taiwan Relations Act is more an embodiment of the friendship between the American and Chinese people on Taiwan rather than an imperial sword – that the Chinese people and the American people are united to fight against communist aggression…

    Now – what do I really think? I frankly think that the U.S. originally signed the Taiwan Relations Act truly out of the genuine friendship between the American and Chinese people on Taiwan. I don’t think the U.S. was being imperialistic. Now however – the world has changed. More recently, I believe the Taiwan Relations Act is increasingly being used as a geopolitical ploy to weaken China. As such, the Act does symbolize U.S. imperialism.

    But Jason, even though I may sympathize with your sentiments about U.S. imperialism, I actually believe U.S. military projection into Asia is of great benefit to China.

    China is surrounded by some 15 countries (if you also count Japan). Traditionally, many of these 15 countries have been aggressive and powerful. The window of peace is a precious gift – especially during modern times in a place like East Asia. China should count its blessings that the U.S., by being so powerful and engaged with Asia, has finally provided some ballast and stability in Asia so necessary for China to develop.

    So yes – U.S. is imperialistic. But as long as China properly engages U.S., who cares if U.S. is being imperialistic? U.S. can be made into a gentle, even useful, imperialist as far as China is concerned…

  96. dewang Says:

    My view is this Taiwan Relations Act was a result of U.S. switching official diplomatic relations to the Mainland. There was a *need* within a segment of the U.S. to want to preserve some level of relationship with Taiwan prior to this switch. And, geopolotically, it made sense for the U.S. – just in case the relationship with China fails.

    I think the selling of arms to Taiwan is mainly symbolic. If the U.S. sells the most sophisticated weapons to Taiwan, a lot of the technologies are going to transfer to China. The U.S. is not naive.

    GWB started out a staunch supporter of Chen, but when Chen got more radical, Bush couldn’t stand him.

    I think the U.S. rather not see Mainland invade Taiwan. I think all U.S. presidents rather not contemplate a war scenario involving the two. I truly believe it is interested in a peaceful solution some day and that no one rocks the boat unnaturally.

  97. Wukailong Says:

    The issue that’s complicating this question is the peculiar nature of the relationship between the mainland and Taiwan. This is hard to describe in a way that doesn’t upset anyone, but I think everyone can agree that:

    * Taiwan is its own political entity, like Hongkong and Taiwan.
    * Taiwan is not recognized as an independent country by any major country in the world.
    * The mainland government claims jurisdiction over Taiwan but does not in fact control it.

    I can understand the imperialist viewpoint since the Cold War is over and you could see it as the US hindering China in its goal of national unification. However, for Jason’s comparison in #92 to make any sense, a part of what is now the US, like California, would be a state on its own with its own borders and jurisdiction, though still claimed by the US. The US would say it is part of the US since time immemorial, but at the same time talk of reunification.

    I’m not blaming the CCP entirely for this situation. The KMT happily claimed to represent all of China in the UN, and were as unwilling to negotiate with the CCP as the CCP was with the KMT. They both loved to put the names of each other’s authorities in quotation marks.

    Really, this question would be so much simpler to solve or at least place in a framework if it was like Germany or Korea, where there were two sovereign states that discussed unification. Now it’s like you have to pretend not to be ill, and still discuss what medicine to take. Hence also the difficulty in deciding whether the US is right or wrong to have the Taiwan Relations Act.

  98. Raj Says:

    Allen (95)

    You’re wrong about the Taiwan Relations Act. It does not oblige the US to physically defend Taiwan. It doesn’t even require the US to sell Taiwan weapons. It asserts that it is policy to sell Taiwan defensive weapons and that the US needs to maintain a capability to defend Taiwan if it is attacked. Just because the US might have a capability does not mean it would be used.

    Policy can be changed. If a future president wanted to, he/she could stop selling any arms to Taiwan. That would create a fight in Congress and with certain parts of the public, but it might be something the president would be willing to do. In the end, selling Taiwan weapons is a policy decision, as would be using military force to protect the island.

    The claim that the US is imperialistic because of the TRA is ridiculous, especially because it is not a universally accepted position that dealing with Taiwan is interference in Chinese domestic affairs.

    Dewang (96)

    Whilst the US is always sensitive about how other countries treat its military technology, it already sells/has agreed to sell Taiwan some pretty high-tech equipment – e.g. PAC-3, E-2C Hawkeye 2000, etc. Given the former protests US bases in Okinawa, that sale would never have been approved if the US thought China was going to get its mits on the system’s details.

    There’s always speculation about secret technology making its way to China through Taiwan, but little actual evidence of it happening in a significant fashion. Official comments from Washington have said that the US trusts Taiwan re the use of technology it sells, even if some Sinophiles in the State Department like to imply there are “concerns” to undermine the case for future arms sales.

    Wukailong (97)

    Good points made generally.

  99. miaka9383 Says:

    Here is a copy of the act :http://usinfo.org/docs/basic/tra_e.htm
    I think what Allen is referring to is this clause in the beggining, of course it can be interpret it in anyway because of its language “(6) to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan. ”
    Now this is a clause after it said U.S will provide Taiwan with defensive arms.
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————–
    Does this act extends U.S’s imperialistic characteristic? No
    If you read the act, it actually talks about peace and security of the Taiwanese people. That is it. Does it interfere with China’s “internal” affairs? I do not think so, but by the wording of this act, it is up to personal interpretation with their personal biases in it.
    I don’t know if you guys had read the report from the RAND Institute, they recommended that status quo is the best way to go. If Taiwan declares independence, it is detrimental to US-Taiwan relations. If China decided to shoot off all of its coastal missiles in Taiwan… it is extremely damaging to U.S-China relations,plus if China does that, they might spark a war in asia.

  100. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #72, @Steve

    Sure, Allen, let’s make another rule. Why, because attorneys here have no sense of propriety? Because their mommies and daddies failed to teach them properly? Well, I know I was raised to know the difference. If I slipped up, even as an adult, I got my ears boxed. Same things go with my kids. Their mother and I taught them well. Even though they are grown now, occasionally they hear it from me.

    Creating more rules, IMHO, is just a sure sign of failure. It may be necessary for some allopathic remedy, but still a sure sign of failure.

    Let me tell a short little story from the medical world.

    I have friends who were and are pathologists in Portland, OR at a teaching hospital. Like all good pathology departments in medical schools and teaching hospitals, they kept specimens of human body parts, e.g. lungs, hearts, livers, etc., in their laboratory. They also had preserved a number of fetuses at various stages of growth and deformities. For teaching and reference purposes.

    This department had some residents, who were about my age at the time. We were in our late 20’s. One of the residents was a real jokester. One day, he staged a fetal puppet show to amuse his fellow doctors and younger med students. The older doctors were not amused. They did not need to pick up their PDR’s to figure out the rules and ethics of such antics. They berated him thoroughly. Suffice it to say, he was chagrined. Seriously chagrined and taken down a few notches, as he should have been.

    These older pathologists were not prudes. Pathologists have a very sarcastic, cynical sense of humor in order to make it through their specialty, which can be gruesome at times. Most of them were/are Monty Python fans. Nonetheless, they knew instantly when the line had been crossed. Nobody had to create a rule. This happened 30 years ago; I remember it like it was yesterday.

    Maybe the reality is that American physicians have a much more highly developed sense of propriety than Taiwanese judges and prosecutors? Maybe Taiwanese politicians and judicial members have no sense of propriety? Are integrity and ethics important here in the judicial system? Maybe that is why the politicians, prosecutors, judges, and media are just a giant freak show? Who knows?

    Another item, Allen. You wrote, “This trial – if you look at it from a legal perspective – does not show anything wrong. The judiciary has been given a free reign; the prosecution has been aggressive. Judged alone – it’s a very good trial. The only thing wrong is people imposing their own conspiracy theories on top of it to make political points.” You followed this up later by saying, “OK, I don’t have any insider’s knowledge or perspective.”

    So which is it, Allen? The former or the latter?

    Regarding rights, every right has corresponding responsibilities. Life is rough. Nonetheless, feel free to equivocate, obfuscate, be evasive, and make excuses, whatever. It is your right, Allen! :D

    I just agree to disagree. With your current mindset, I hope that we never see eye-to-eye. Color me disgusted. But I am Russian Jewish; I can live with that. Certainly not the first or last time that disgust has visited my doorstep. ::LMAO:: :D

  101. Jason Says:

    @Steve

    As for my first question: Taiwan was not a de facto independence in 1979! Chiang Kai-Sheik and CCP’s views of One China, 2 political parties was still intact not until their Western zealots claiming ROC is the sole holder of one China. The question ask does United States has rights to interfere with one China, two parties which was agreed upon by Chiang and Mao?

    Taiwan Relation Act is an imperialistic act. Spreading democracy involves the U.S. being policeman of the world. It involves building up and maintaining military forces throughout the world. It involves the U.S. entering wars in which it is not directly a combatant. It involves the U.S. choosing favorites and enemies among other nations. It involves the U.S. in choosing the domestic factions that it supports within foreign nations and making itself the enemy of others.

    Under this driving umbrella strategy, the U.S. continually constructs threats where there need not be threats. If it decides to defend Taiwan, then mainland China becomes a threat to the U.S. and an enemy. If it decides that Iraq is in the wrong by invading Kuwait, then it makes war on Iraq.

    Under this policy, the U.S. for many years supplied arms and support to various dictators and/or autocrats such as Suharto of Indonesia, Marcos of the Philippines, Chun Du-Hwan of South Korea, and Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

    You can add this list: Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-Bian—tyrants and abuses their democratic process.

    As for my SECOND QUESTION: What if China made an act that bring arms to one of United States’ group that advocates independence, how would United States feel?

  102. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #100,

    Alright Jerry. I know you are upset. You are disgusted about the trial. You feel Chen’s trial has been the victim of a political freak show.

    That’s fine…

    Let’s at least toast to a brighter future for Taiwan. To that, even with my current mindset, I think we can all agree.

  103. Allen Says:

    I didn’t think people would argue about this, but apparently some people feel Taiwan Relations Act is toothless and would never potentially draw U.S. into a military engagement between Taiwan and Mainland China.

    I don’t have time to cite all the relevant provisions, but the wiki entry is not too bad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan_Relations_Act

    Read the provisions section.

    The act provides for Taiwan to be treated under U.S. laws the same as “foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities”.

    The act defines the term “Taiwan” includes, as the context may require, the islands of Taiwan (the main Island) and Penghu, which form the Taiwan Province and Taipei and Kaohsiung cities of the Republic of China. The act does not apply to Jinmen, the Matsus, the Pratas or Taiping.

    The act stipulates that the United States will “consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States” but does not mandate that the United States intervene in these situations.

    This act also requires the United States “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character”, and “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.”

    Curious that the act does not apply to Jinmen, the Matsus, the Pratas or Taiping. Curious also that the Act’s policy requires U.S. “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.” Looks like U.S. was not prepared to defend Taiwan in a skirmish with Mainland – but will come to Taiwan’s aid if the island proper is attacked.

    Unlike the treaties that bind NATO, Taiwan Relations Act does not automatically require U.S. to defend Taiwan should Taiwan be attacked. It does however offer a legal justification – even incentive – for the U.S. to interfere in a flareup between Taiwan and Mainland.

  104. miaka9383 Says:

    @Allen
    Interpretation in Wiki to you may be accurate, often time it is up to people’s opinions. I recommending reading the Act itself like above. To let people make judgements themselves.

  105. Allen Says:

    @miaka9383,

    I am not relying on Wiki’s interpretations (I almost never do such childish act!). I usually use Wiki when I am too lazy to summarize the facts – as in this case.

    But let me provide the link again you provided (I didn’t see it on the first reading, I thought it was a bad link since it wasn’t highlighted). http://usinfo.org/docs/basic/tra_e.htm

  106. miaka9383 Says:

    @Allen
    Like you I am lazy. I usually do not like to add the a href tag to my posts….

  107. Allen Says:

    TRA is just a tool / mechanism. The broader U.S.-Sino relations will be the real factor that determines the fate of East Asia stability.

    http://www.carnegieendowment.org/events/?fa=eventDetail&id=1324&prog=zch,zgp&proj=zdrl

  108. Jason Says:

    @Steve

    One more thing, I never made any assertion that Japanese and American troops are IN Taiwan. I didn’t meant literally. I’m saying that the US military base in Okinawa and American battleships cruise nearby waters and tens of thousands of US troops remain on Korean soil are a critical link in a strategic ring of containment along China’s eastern seaboard. That makes it imperialistic.

    Last point, Taiwan Relations Act violates the US Constitution.

    A treaty cannot be used to commit us to war at some future date. One generation cannot declare war for another. Making an open-ended commitment to go to war, promising troops, money and weapons is a violation of the US Constitution.

  109. Raj Says:

    Wikipedia is a pile of preverbial over anything political/historical. It’s laughable that anyone treats it as a source! I could change it right now to say something completely different.

  110. Allen Says:

    @Raj #109,

    Well … I wouldn’t bad mouth it that much. Either you or I can go change it. But if we do, many others who have registered to watch the article will be notified. They can quickly edit it back if we go out of line. The community checks itself. Editors will get involved if people report abuse.

    The wiki model has created something out of nothing that I think is quite useful. Of course, citing it as a source to prove a point over issues we are serious about debating is laughable. But citing it for background knowledge that is really not at dispute so we can all quickly be brought up to speed … that can be quite useful.

    Besides – when people sometimes cite NY Times, CNN, etc. as source, why not cite wiki occasionally also?

  111. Raj Says:

    Allen

    You obviously don’t know how Wikipedia works. Not all articles are watched to the same degree, so changes can be ignored for months and there’s no guarantee editors have a clue about what they monitor.

    With something like a law you should interpret the law yourself, or look at what PROFESSIONALS have to say.

    The New York Times has people that review articles before they’re published. There is no mandatory reviewing of any edits in any articles on Wikipedia.

  112. Allen Says:

    Oooh – a little touchy today, Raj?

    I’ve never said all articles are watched to the same degree. The review process is hit and miss in wiki, but at least there is a process. And overall you can’t argue against the result (http://news.cnet.com/Study-Wikipedia-as-accurate-as-Britannica/2100-1038_3-5997332.html )

    As for review by NY Times board, if you look at their work product, some times you wonder if they might as well not have any reviewers at all.

    As for the law bit – of course I interpret the law myself and am always very proud of it.

  113. miaka9383 Says:

    @Allen
    After reading the law, Jason mentioned that the act itself is unconstitutional. I am curious on what you thought about it. Because I did not see any element of what he mentioned when I was reading the act, but of course it was written by lawyers. What did you interpret from the act?

  114. Raj Says:

    Allen, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Why are you so eager to score points?

    I can argue against the result. The Britannica has long been a resource for people too lazy to do their own reading – that Wikipedia has a third more errors than it is hardly an achievement. I never used Britannica when I was at school, but I remember teachers penalising students for using it. They apparently have the same approach to Wikipedia these days.

    NYT is more consistent than Wikipedia in terms of accuracy so any fact-checking it has is clearly superior to Wikipedia’s “if I can be arsed” system.

    If you can interpret the law, why are you redirecting others to a webpage with uncited and plainly wrong statements?

  115. Jerry Says:

    @Jason #101, #108

    Jason, would you mind clarifying some issues here. You are bandying about some emotionally-charged words and concepts in your posts.

    “As for my first question: Taiwan was not a de facto independence in 1979!” It sure looks like it was “de facto independent”. What is your definition of “de facto independence”?

    “Taiwan Relation Act is an imperialistic act.” What is your definition of imperialism?

    “You can add this list: Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-Bian—tyrants and abuses their democratic process.” What makes them, IYHO, tyrants who abuse the democratic process?

    “As for my SECOND QUESTION: What if China made an act that bring arms to one of United States’ group that advocates independence, how would United States feel?” What would you call Russia’s presence in Cuba during the 60’s? What is your take on the “Cuban Missile Crisis”, which I happened to live through as a lad?

    “I’m saying that the US military base in Okinawa and American battleships cruise nearby waters and tens of thousands of US troops remain on Korean soil are a critical link in a strategic ring of containment along China’s eastern seaboard. That makes it imperialistic.” Again, what is your definition of imperialism and imperialistic?

    Last point, Taiwan Relations Act violates the US Constitution.

    A treaty cannot be used to commit us to war at some future date. One generation cannot declare war for another. Making an open-ended commitment to go to war, promising troops, money and weapons is a violation of the US Constitution.

    In what specific language does the TRA commit us to go to war? Are you saying that all of the military bases that the US has all over the globe are unconstitutional? Are you saying that all of the US defense treaties ratified by Congress are unconstitutional? Where in the constitution does it say what you allege? Where has the US made an open-ended commitment to go to war?

    You make some very large emotional charges and allegations. Please show some documentation and definitions. Thanks.

    BTW, I am not interested in following links. Please answer the question in the body of your post(s).

  116. Allen Says:

    @Raj #114,

    Since you accuse me of citing to wrong statements, I’d like to be educated as to what and where the wrong statements are – and where I cite them.

    Also – in academia, we routinely cite sources to back up our assertions. When we cite to say reference A, it doesn’t mean that we can unconditional guarantee of everything said in reference A, but only that reference A support our assertions.

    I don’t know whether the standard of citations in blogsphere should be as stringent as in academia, but I’d be interested in your take. I’d also be interested in any pointers you can give me regarding the science and art of making proper citations…

  117. Allen Says:

    @miaka9383 #113,

    When someone say something is Constitutional – unless the Supreme Court has made a specific pronouncement that it is, it’s usually an open ended statement. In general, everything can be considered Constitutional until challenged and held to be unconstitutional.

    The Taiwan Relations Act is not a TREATY. It’s not a binding agreement negotiated and haggled back and forth between sovereigns. It’s simply a law passed by Congress…

    Is such a law Constitutional? Unless we are dealing with civil rights issues, it’s usually pretty hard to challenge that some law passed by the Congress is Unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has given Congress a pretty wide swath to work with when it comes to foreign policy and national economics development. The Supreme Court would probably give Congress lots of elbow room if it just wants to make some general vague policy pronouncements as most of TRA seems to be about.

    One Constitutional issue that might arise may occur when a U.S. president does want to interfere with some military skirmish between ROC and PRC. I don’t think the U.S. president can declare war on PRC without further authorization – but some hothead U.S. president might try to stretch the ACT to mean a conditional declaration of war.

    Overall about the Act, I’ll say it’s Constitutional. People can try to convince me otherwise. And if they do, maybe we can launch a legal challenge against it and see…! ;-)

  118. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #95: Your “One China” definition is China’s dream world definition that even they are too pragmatic to believe, but it serves their purpose to put it out there. Under the definition you supplied, the CCP would not be allowed to buy weapons from Russia without the ROC’s approval since this interferes with China’s sovereignty per the ROC viewpoint. Is that really your position? The California example would be valid… if you had a Republic of California passport, used California currency, Arnold was your President or Prime Minister, etc. After the Civil War, the southern states used American currency, had American governors, passports, etc. Taiwan is nothing like this so the comparison is absurd.

    Now if Russia passed a law that said if China sent its army into Tibet or Xinjiang, they would send troops to defend the Tibetans or Xinjiang peoples, then you’d have a point.

    “The Taiwan Act (potentially) binds the U.S. to come to aid of Taiwan militarily should Taiwan and Mainland China gets into a military confrontation.”

    No, this isn’t what the Act says. If Taiwan attacks China, the US doesn’t have to come to the aid of Taiwan. That’s a military confrontation, isn’t it? If Taiwan declares independence unilaterally, the US doesn’t have to come to the aid of Taiwan. It’s only if China unilaterally attacks Taiwan and there is no “peaceful resolution”, then the US government would offer its military aid to Taiwan. Taiwan would still have to accept that aid. If Taiwan turned the aid down, then there’d be no aid, just as when Taiwan turned down the recent weapons sales, no weapons were sold to Taiwan.

    The Act was Congress’ way to tell the President that Congress was in charge of foreign policy (it’s in the Constitution) and this was the Congress’ position. That’s all it means. At the time, Carter had made some unilateral moves that Congress did not agree with so they pass the TRA, which Carter vetoed and Congress overrode easily.

    “By using the threat of force to interfere with Chinese domestic affairs, the U.S. – through the use of Taiwan Relations Act – is interfering with Chinese sovereignty in a worst imperialistic manner.”

    By using the threat of force to interfere with ROC domestic affairs, the CCP – through the use of the Anti-Secession Law – is interfering with the ROC’s sovereignty in the worst imperialistic manner. If you agree with one you must agree with the other under your “One China” definition.

    “More recently, I believe the Taiwan Relations Act is increasingly being used as a geopolitical ploy to weaken China. As such, the Act does symbolize U.S. imperialism.”

    Allen, that’s a pretty strong statement with no back up. Care to show how the TRA is being used as a geopolitical ploy to weaken China? You don’t “symbolize” imperialism, you either are imperialist or you are not. For the US to act in an imperialist fashion towards Taiwan, they’d have to control Taiwan’s government, military or air space. They don’t do any of that. For the US to act in an imperialist fashion towards China, they’d have to do the same. They don’t do any of that. So I can’t see where you’re coming from in your statement.

    @ DeWang #96: The TRA was between Carter and Congress concerning the US relationship with Taiwan. That’s all it was. Congress voted overwhelmingly for the TRA, and that included Democrats against their own President which is pretty unusual in American politics.

    @ Jason: Jerry asked some pretty pertinent questions so I’ll wait on my reply until you’ve answered them. That way I can get your input before I respond to your two posts.

  119. Allen Says:

    @Steve #118,

    Hmmm … I don’t see the fact that Taiwan has its own currency, issues passport, etc. make any difference w.r.t. to one-China principle. Either a one-China principle is a one-China principle or it’s not. A lot of people like to say, we support one-China principle – provided condition 1, 2, 3, 4 …. n are met. If you are going to unilaterally attach any conditions, it’s not much of a one-China principle is it, eh? No wonder PRC has to keep on fighting for reaffirmation of the principle. One day, when China is strong enough it would not need it. But now, unfortunately, it is a fact of life of a relatively weak country…

    Steve – with regard to my quote “The Taiwan Act (potentially) binds the U.S. to come to aid of Taiwan militarily should Taiwan and Mainland China gets into a military confrontation,” you put forth a bunch of question as if they refute what I say. I don’t think any of your questions – individually or in aggregate – are relevant. What I say is consistent with every word in the text – irrespective of how I answer your questions. Maybe you missed my qualifier “potentially”?

    Finally about imperial behavior, imperialistic behavior does not involve actual control. Japan controlled Manchukuo through a nominally independent puppet gov’t. The West exerted Imperialistic aggression against Qing by fomenting disunity within a weakened Qing polity. U.S. / CIA exerted Imperialistic behavior toward China by supporting militant rebels (DL and his cohorts) against China. U.S. can theoretically exert Imperialistic behavior toward China by supporting Taiwan Independence Movement. In practice, Steve, no actual, official, formal, military control is necessary for imperialistic behavior toward a foreign sovereign.

  120. Wukailong Says:

    The One-China principle is still quite unique. No government of another divided country, as far as I know, can use the same leverage to get their point across. Therefore I’m not sure I would say that China wouldn’t need it when it gets more powerful – it is already quite powerful. How did Germany handle this, and what about Korea now?

    I’m still not sure I agree that imperialist control means things like supporting a movement inside another country, unless you plan to actually put your own puppets there when you’re done. The PRC supported revolutionary movements in many countries, militant ones in Asia and civilian parties in the West (including Sweden, in which the party can have included some thousand people at best). I really don’t see how that was imperialist on China’s behalf. They just wanted friendly governments in other countries.

  121. Chops Says:

    Looks like Taiwan was offered some UN representation way back in the 1970s, but rejected by Chiang Ching-kuo

    http://taiwanreview.nat.gov.tw/fp.asp?xItem=24693&CtNode=119

    Resolution 2758, called “Restoration of the lawful rights of the PRC in the UN,” expelled the “representatives of Chiang Kai-shek” from the UN and gave their China seat to the PRC. The issue of Taiwan’s status or representation was not touched in the resolution. The dual recognition of China and Taiwan was proposed by some UN member states but was rejected by the Chiang administration, which insisted that it would not coexist with a “thief” under the same roof. “Back in the time of debates concerning Resolution 2758,” Lai says, “representatives from more than 20 countries had argued that Taiwan should apply for separate UN membership.

  122. Allen Says:

    @WKL #120,

    Yes – the one-China principle is quite unique – and subtle – and tricky. I agree with that.

    As to your comments about PRC supporting revolutionary movements in other countries – yes I consider that an imperialistic type of projection of power – at least according to your definition of “imperialism” as mere projection of power. If that doesn’t sound quite right, it’s probably because by imperialism we mean something more than projection of power. Are we associating imperialism with a particular brand of imperialism, specifically the projection of power by rich, powerful, industrial societies against native, poor, non-industrialized societies?

    Continuing on, WKL, I understand your hesitance to pronounce U.S. imperialism here by trying to distinguish between friendly support vs. imperialistic aggrandizement.

    When a foreign government supported Sun Yat Sen in the revolutionary overthrow of the Qing government, is that foreign government an Imperialistic aggrandizer or a friend and supporter of the Chinese people? When the Soviet Union – firmly believing in communism – support Mao against Chiang – and when the U.S. – equally assured of the ideals of democracy and capitalism – support Chiang against Mao – are either imperialistic or merely fulfilling their role offering friendship to the Chinese to the best ability each knows?

    I say that’s a tough call….

    How about today’s situation with respect to the Taiwan Relations Act? It’s a tough call if you really believe ROC is a legitimate successor of China. The problem is that that belief does not match reality.

    ROC today already has conceded defeat to the PRC on the mainland. At most ROC can seek is to reunify with the PRC. At worst, ROC can dissolve resulting in an independent Taiwan. Since the presumption of ROC as a legitimate China is not based on reality (also no major power recognizes ROC to be the successor of China), the point is moot. If you support Taiwan today at the expense of the mainland, you are projecting power against China – you are trying to split the country – to interfere with the domestic affairs of China – that has to be an imperialistic act.

    That’s my opinion. I understand reasonable people may disagree…

  123. Jason Says:

    @Jerry

    Chiang Ching-Kuo was not view lightly to staunch Taiwanese Independence movt so I take that as Taiwanese Independence doesn’t recognize their independence in that era.

    Taiwan Relations Act.

    US policy states that if China attacks Taiwan, the US will use military means to defend the island. American battleships cruise nearby waters and tens of thousands of US troops remain on Korean soil, waiting to be called up for the great military conflict that is surely coming.

    Imperialism: forms of political control by a greater power over less powerful territories or nationalities
    More on Sept 24, 2009. Do not have time.

  124. Think Ming Says:

    Allan said: “One thing that has impressed me about this case is how relatively independent the judicial process has been allowed to run its course. There has been no evidence that Ma’s administration – or the KMT dominated legislature – exerted any influence on the judicial process.”

    LOL!!!

  125. Raj Says:

    Chops (121)

    Yes, Taiwan might have been able to keep recognition, but Chiang was both as mad as a hatter and so bitter that he couldn’t accept the CCP ruling China. It goes to show that he was more interested in saving face and massaging his own ego than looking out for the people of Taiwan.

    Even today the KMT don’t see Taiwan as being big enough for them. They want unification to do a deal with the CCP and get a slice of China, whether it’s political or economic gain. Taiwan is worth selling to Beijing for that.

  126. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #119: You wrote, “If you are going to unilaterally attach any conditions, it’s not much of a one-China principle is it, eh?”

    Hasn’t that been the beef in Taiwan about the one-China principle, that China has attached conditions?

    Years ago, what I heard in Taiwan was that they would unite with China once China got rid of the CCP and became a democracy similar to their own. Then after the missile business in ’96, a sizable portion of Taiwanese wanted independence since they felt like they were threatened. Since that time, the pendulum has swung back and forth but during all that time, most Taiwanese preferred the status quo and not independence nor reunification. Today things are about the same. The PRC isn’t fighting for affirmation of the principle of one-China, they are fighting for the affirmation of THEIR version of the one-China principle, which comes with attached conditions. That’s why I was puzzled by your words quoted above.

    The CCP has no intention of giving up power or becoming a democracy similar to Taiwan’s. Both China and Taiwan feel that more economic integration is a good goal to pursue at this time. From what I’ve heard, the three links have been very popular.

    I didn’t give “potentially” the credit it deserved and was wrong to do so.

    I believe your definition of “imperialistic behavior” is a far stretch from the actual definition and is more a definition of “influence”. Imperialistic behavior involves control, not influence. These days, China influences the States and the States influence China, yet I would not say that either country is acting imperialistically towards the other. Another word for “influence” is “diplomacy” and that is practiced by all countries.

    @ Allen #122: You wrote, “If you support Taiwan today at the expense of the mainland, you are projecting power against China – you are trying to split the country – to interfere with the domestic affairs of China – that has to be an imperialistic act.”

    I disagree. Under the “one-China, two systems” interpretation, supporting the ROC means supporting China. Supporting the PRC means supporting China. Your definition has only one system, not two. No one is trying to split the country, the country is already split. If the country wasn’t split, why would you want to reunify it? There is no such thing as the “domestic affairs of China” under the one-China, two systems definition, there are only the domestic affairs of the PRC and the domestic affairs of the ROC. So when China interferes with Taiwan, they are interfering with the domestic affairs of the ROC and when Taiwan interferes with China, they are interfering with the domestic affairs of the PRC. When another country supports the PRC against the ROC, they are interfering in the domestic affairs of the ROC and when another country supports the ROC against the PRC, they are interfering in the domestic affairs of the PRC.

    In the end, it’s nothing but semantics. De facto, there are two countries right now. What the future will bring and when it will happen is anyone’s guess.

  127. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve @ 126, ” there are two countries right now”

    Well, that’s what the Confederates said. What is also de facto (and de jure) is there continue to exist a stalemate in China’s civil war.

    For those without a stake in it, surely it’s “nothing but semantics”. But for my relative’s sake, I’d certainly hope the Chinese people across the straight can resolve their civil war without further conflict, mainly thru compromise by people in Taiwan (because the alternatives are unimaginable.)

    Before you say anything try to remember how our civil war ended, and where’s the peace treaty for China’s civil war? Did the Confederacy continue to exist?

  128. Lime Says:

    @Allen, 122

    Problem I see here is that you’re cherry picking between legalism and realism in making your case that the US defending Taiwan would be imperialism. You’re saying the PRC’s claim on Taiwan is based on their theoretical status as the legitimate successor state of the Qing State/Empire, right? And that the ROC is not a legitimate ‘China’ (successor state of the Qing) any longer, because of the reality that they are no longer in a position to reunify the Qing’s territory (though, contary to what you’ve stated, I don’t think the ROC has ever ‘conceded defeat’ to PRC in any official or legal way).

    But… From a strictly legal perspective, there are a couple of things you neglect. As the PRC is a usurper that has failed to successfully conquer the old Qing territory (Mongolia and Taiwan, not to mention a large section of modern Siberia), overlooking the reality of their superior position compared to the ROC, it seems to me that the ROC has a much stronger legal claim to be the rightful heir. On the other hand, though, whether Taiwan is legally part of China (PRC, ROC, or otherwise) is a little dubious. The Treaty of Shimonoseki, which was signed by the undisputed legitimate government of China at the time, ceded the island to Japan in 1895. From the American government’s perspective, the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1952, which it signed, left the status of Taiwan unresolved, except for it no longer being Japanese territory. The Treaty of Taipei, in the same year, theoretically transferred Taiwan from Japan to the ROC, but this may not be legitimate because a) the PRC had already succeeded the ROC (according to it’s legal definition), and therefore the ROC shouldn’t have legally existed, and b) Japan had already given up Taiwan in the San Francisco Treaty earlier, so wasn’t then in a position to cede it to anyone.

    Those are the legal obstacles. Using realism, though, the ROC and the PRC are both sovereign states, regardless of whether they recognise each other or what ‘great’ powers recognise them. The civil war, in reality (though not in law of course), has been over for over half a century, and the PRC failed to conquer Taiwan, so now there really are two Chinas. The other little article of realism that is overlooked here, as it is often done elsewhere, is that the best solution, in terms of health, happiness, and prosperity of both ROC and PRC citizens, which should in theory be the priority of both states, would be for the two states to recognise each other, agree that they are separate and mutually independent, and drop all their claims to the territory controlled by each other, and then proceed to live and let live as neighbours, like many other mutually independent states with similar cultural and linguistic traditions do (Canada and the USA, Germany and Austria, Portugal and Spain, etc.). If this were done, nobody would have to die, both sides would get governments of their preference, and economic and cultural ties could be strengthened for their own sake without fear that there was somekind of a takeover plan behind them. And there wouldn’t be any disadvantage for either side that I can see, except of course for the emotional anguish it would cause people of a Chinese nationalist persuasion who were comitted to the territorial re-establishment of the Qing State/Empire (between 1683 and 1895) under one government.

    I think, therefore, there are quite a few ways that the American government could see its relationship and its role in regards to Taiwan. Choosing to see the Taiwan Act, or any other support of the ROC state as imperialist aggression requires a very strict adherence to the PRC’s official point view and the exclusion of all others.

  129. Steve Says:

    @ Charles #127: Your example has no bearing on the China/Taiwan situation:
    1) After the Confederacy declared independence, it was a ‘de facto’ country, just like Taiwan.
    2) The southern states never traded with the North, never allowed their citizens to live or visit the North and initiated a war with the North immediately that didn’t end until the Confederacy was defeated.
    3) The Confederacy was run not by northerners but by southerners. Taiwan was run by the KMT and not Taiwanese from 1949 until 1988.
    4) When was the last time China and Taiwan had a military confrontation?
    5) China did not have a naval blockade around Taiwan’s ports nor did Taiwan have a naval blockade around China’s ports.
    6) There was no stalemate in the American Civil War.
    7) The American Civil War lasted four years. Technically, the Civil War between China and Taiwan has lasted sixty years. To you these are comparable?

    Right now, there is no civil war between Taiwan and China except in a de jure sense. That’s why the term “peaceful reunification” is used.

    So you think Taiwan should compromise but you don’t think China should also compromise in negotiations? Then they’re not negotiations, are they? They’re demands.

    Trying to compare the situation between Taiwan and China to the American civil war is like comparing apples and oranges.

  130. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “So you think Taiwan should compromise but you don’t think China should also compromise in negotiations? Then they’re not negotiations, are they? They’re demands.”
    —ohhhh soooo true. Is it unimaginable that mainland China might compromise? Actually, it probably is.

  131. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, SKC, I’m just stating the obvious that ROC lost the civil war, like the Confederates. Will “1C2S” include any viability for ROC beyond status quo? I honestly don’t see how, ROC have to evolve into some sort of “ROSAR”.

    Will we park the 7th fleet there again? I hope not. This is just recognizing reality. Anybody says different should consider buying a one-way ticket and get themselves into Taiwan before EVA stops flying into war zone.

    (BTW, is this “threadjacking”? Should 15 some odd comments be deleted? It’s obviousely more off-topic than what rolf wrote.)

  132. Steve Says:

    @ Charles: When the Confederacy lost the Civil War, did they take refuge in Florida and control it with their own government for 60 years? There has never been a situation in modern history that compares to the China/Taiwan relationship. North and South Korea are approximately the same relative size, as was East and West Germany. Meanwhile, China has 1.3 billion people while Taiwan is somewhere around 23 million. It is a completely unique situation. Trying to compare it with other historical events just confuses the issue.

    There are three potential options for Taiwan and we all know what they are. Right now, only the current one is viable. What the future has in store is debatable. In the history of mankind, no democracy has ever voluntarily been taken over by a non-democracy. No developed country has ever been voluntarily taken over by an developing country. Both of these would be firsts. Could they happen? Sure, but I don’t think it’s probable right now.

    P.S. It evolved from the original topic to what it is now, so it’s off topic but the original topic has pretty much run its course. If Allen asked us to get back on topic, I’d do so in an instant. Since these more recent posts also include Allen’s comments, I don’t think he minds.

  133. admin Says:

    Chen Shui-bian to sue Obama and Gates in US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

    http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2009/09/23/225777/Ex-President-Chen.htm

  134. Steve Says:

    @ admin #133: Allen should have a field day with this one. :P

  135. Allen Says:

    @Steve #132,

    No … I don’t mind being off topic. You know that! ;-)

    As for comparing Taiwan to Confederate state – the main issue, for me, is whether it’s relevant how long a “civil war” last?

    Can a civil war last 60 or more years? Or must one last only four or so years? Is it relevant that the PRC and ROC never officially recognized each other? Is it relevant the PRC has always considered Taiwan its territory and has never officially ceded the territory of Taiwan?

    I don’t know of any laws or norms that limit the length of a civil war…

    @admin #133,

    I just saw the news yesterday. It’s quite interesting… but in some sense, it’s quite standard also. If I want to discrete the legitimacy of the currently political entity on Taiwan, what better place than the handover of the territory from Japan back to China? It’s similar to why in America, every now and then, you’d get people bringing cases in Federal courts using the original treaties of the British with the American Indians… Why fight current laws when you can go back and attack the foundation of U.S. sovereignty itself?

  136. Allen Says:

    @Steve #134,

    No I’m not going to have a field day.

    But if Chen needs to hire a lawyer in the U.S., I may like to join.

    Let’s sue the U.S. gov’t also for failing to give back the Senkaku / Diaoyutai Islands and maybe even Okinawa back to China / Taiwan at the end of WWII!

    I’d also sue the U.S. gov’t for failing to properly put the war criminals in Japan through war tribunals when the U.S. militarily occupied Japan at the end of the WWII.

    Why leave skeletons in the closet if we can clear them all out with one swoop! :-D

  137. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: I believe Obama and Gates should get life sentences (in Taiwan) for this gross denial of justice! :D

    You’re correct; you can’t compare 4 years to 60 years. However, it’s not a civil war when there’s no fighting. The civil war part of it pretty much ended when the KMT went over to Taiwan. Has there been a political settlement? No, not at all and that’s very relevant. Has anyone ceded territory to the other? Nope, and that’s also relevant. Can you compare it to any other situation involving other countries? Not that I know of.

    People fighting civil wars don’t have “three links”, don’t have investments in each others economy and don’t allow tourists to travel to each others countries. How many Taiwanese currently live and work in China? Would a country fighting a civil war allow this? That’s why I keep saying it’s a unique situation and can’t be compared.

  138. Allen Says:

    @Steve #137,

    Yes – I guess I have to agree Taiwan-Mainland is a unique situation. One might even argue if Chiang were less hot headed and did accept UN membership for ROC – even if ROC was being kicked off the security counsel – we would formally have two Chinas today. The “formality” of one China was due only to some historical personality quirks…

    But you know my position… ;-)

    As for Life sentences for Obama and Gates. I say we bring on Clinton and the Bushes (both of them) and Carter as well. Those four are also as guilty as Obama for not doing the right things (formalizing Japan’s status as U.S. territories and returning Okinawa and Diaoyutai back to Taiwan / China) when they were presidents!

  139. Steve Says:

    Allen, completely agree on all counts. Handcuff those ex-Presidents and throw them in a Taiwan jail! ;)

    I always thought Okinawa was an independent country before Japan annexed it. It is considered a part of China? If I bring in my Lonely Planet Japan guidebook to China, will they make me tear off the front cover because it shows it as a part of Japan???

  140. Allen Says:

    @Steve #139,

    I don’t think CCP is actively advocating Okinawa as part of China. Many Chinese patriots however feel Okinawa does not belong to Japan – and that the U.S. handing the island over to Japan after the WWII was wrong.

    Anyways – I don’t want to get into that can of worm. The more important thing is that Okinawa is heavily influenced by Chinese culture. Even the NY Times admits that (see e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/1984/06/10/travel/fare-of-the-country-okinawa-chinese-influence.html ).

    Although now a part of Japan politically, Okinawa is distinct from it not only in language and culture but in cuisine as well. The food served in local restaurants reflects both the cuisine developed at the royal Okinawan court and the food of the common people, but the difference between these is hazy. It is said that the former was ”invented” in the misty past at the royal court in order to entertain Chinese emissaries, adapting local ingredients and flavors to Chinese taste. Whether this is true or not, Okinawan food is clearly closer in sensibility to China than to Japan. The predominance of pork (the only meat in the diet except for the occasional use of goat, and the basis of most soup stocks) and the frequency of stir-fried dishes attest strong Chinese influence.

    Okinawa is a popular destination for many Taiwanese tourist.

  141. Jerry Says:

    Sorry to break the spell here and return to the issue of Chen. ::LMAO:: Hey, I am not throwing rocks here; I am an off-topic guy, too.

    I saw this out at TTimes the other day. There are some interesting POVs about the Chen case and trial.

    ANALYSIS: Chen’s case highlights judicial shortcomings

    REFORMS NEEDED: A law professor, a lawyer and a former member of the Judicial Yuan said that many questions had been raised by the way the case was handled

    By Ko Shu-ling
    STAFF REPORTER
    Tuesday, Sep 22, 2009, Page 3

    “Except for sending out a clear message to future presidents that they will be severely punished for committing graft, I don’t see the ruling doing the country any good.”
    — Kao Yung-cheng, executive director of the Judicial Reform Foundation

    The corruption case against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his family has prompted a wide range of responses.

    Some said that it shows the nation’s judiciary is hard on corruption and secret political donations. Others, however, argue that it was a clear example of political persecution by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

    Most analysts agree that it illustrates the shortcomings of a legal system in transition.

    Chen, who has been in custody since December, has asked his lawyers to file an appeal. Despite his repeated calls for the court to release him, the district court overruled his last request. The current detention order expires on Friday.

    The life sentences meted out to Chen and his wife has sparked a heated debate.

    Shilin District Court Judge Hung Ying-hua (洪英花) criticized procedural aspects of the trial and was quickly shot down by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who reportedly dismissed her criticism as a violation of legal ethics.

    Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) said it was up to the Judicial Yuan to decide whether Hung’s outspokenness was appropriate. The Judicial Yuan said judges should be careful what they say.

    Jiang Huang-zhi (姜皇池), an associate professor of law at National Taiwan University, said the case was more of a political vendetta by the KMT than a crackdown on corruption. If the legal system genuinely wanted to be tough on corruption, he said, half of the KMT members would be thrown into jail.

    While Chen seemed to have high hopes for his appeal, Jiang said the former president had no choice but to trust the legal system, which he said has made tremendous progress over the years despite repeated criticism.

    Nevertheless, there was still a lot of room for improvement, Jiang said.

    The legal proceedings were marred, he said, including the leaking of confidential information to the media.

    While it was unclear if the leaks came from prosecutors, Jiang urged reporters to exercise self-restraint when obtaining such information to refrain from misleading public opinion and pressuring the judiciary.

    Judicial Reform Foundation executive director Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) said he did not fully agree that Chen’s case was a political vendetta, but felt the sentencing was too severe.

    Chen was bearing the consequences of doing a poor job in tackling problems caused by transitional justice and judicial reform during his eight-year presidency, Kao said.

    Among the shortcomings in the case, Kao said, was the quality of prosecutors and judges, whom he described as conservative and keen to follow public opinion.

    “The judiciary must be hard on corruption, but it must also take human nature into account rather than merely following the letter of the law,” he said.

    “Except for sending out a clear message to future presidents that they will be severely punished for committing graft, I don’t see the ruling doing the country any good,” he said.

    The judicial process was controversial, but was not handled fairly after the problems were raised, Kao said.

    The problems he cited included the district court’s unusual transfer of the case to Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (周守訓), who had acquitted Ma in a corruption case linked to his terms as Taipei mayor, and the pre-trial detention of Chen, which raised constitutional questions.

    Kao questioned Tsai’s inconsistency in his positions on Chen and Ma’s cases, saying that it was unfair to interpret the president’s discretionary fund and the mayor’s differently.

    Kao also criticized the Witness Protection Act (證人保護法), whose spirit he said was to ensure lighter sentences for those who confess.

    He said he was not against reducing or exempting the sentences of witnesses if they cooperated, but the system was flawed because a witness was likely to exaggerate the facts in order to gain a better deal.

    The Council of Grand Justices has accepted a request to interpret the constitutionality of the transfer of Chen’s case, and Kao urged the council to deal with the issue in a speedy manner.

    Politics could be playing a role in the council’s delayed decision because some grand justices do not want to be labeled as Chen supporters by upholding the constitutional challenge to the transfer of judges.

    Hung was entitled to speak out because her criticism was aimed at procedural aspects rather than the verdict itself, Kao said.

    The judge, however, might want to take a lower-key approach by expressing herself through internal channels, he said, but it was also debatable whether Ma should have denounced Hung for violating legal ethnics.

    To restore confidence in the judicial system, the legal system must be overhauled to ensure fairness in the judicial process, Kao said.

    “Without fairness, the verdict will be questionable,” he said.

    He also proposed putting civilians on the judges panel to decide a case.

    To guarantee the quality of professional judges, he said, a law must be enacted to weed out inferior judges.

    Former Judicial Yuan vice president Cheng Chung-mo (城仲模) said the modern concept of justice had been progressing and changing for more than a century, but the results in Taiwan were unsatisfactory.

    Apart from rebuilding the system, Cheng said the judicial education and training programs must be revamped as well.

    A law school graduate can become a judge at age 24, Cheng said.

    “Some of them probably haven’t even been in love. How do you expect them to judge a murder or insider trading case?” he said. “The court panel handling a former president’s case should be formed by judges of a higher caliber and better credentials.”

    Cheng, a former grand justice, said the composition of the Council of Grand Justices might not be the major factor in its delayed interpretation of constitutional questions concerning Chen’s case, but it was a significant one.

    “No matter who nominated them, they must realize that their responsibility is to be fair, determine the truth and facilitate justice — not to serve the interest of the president who nominated them,” he said.

    If the council had upheld the constitutional challenge, he said, it would invalidate Chen’s trial.

    While Chen seemed optimistic, Cheng said he was afraid history would repeat itself if particular judges were again assigned to handle Chen’s case.

  142. Jerry Says:

    And I would be more than remiss if I ignored Johnny Neihu’s stellar analysis of this case, and of course, I go off-point with Wu in HK and Panda Robots.

    Several notes: I like chou doufu; I don’t care if it stinks. It stinks so good!! Sometimes FM needs to chill out. And what better way than with Johnny Neihu, Taipei’s Jon Stewart. Is Johnny Jewish?? Sorry, I censored out some of the Hello Kitty / Mickey Mouse part of Johnny’s dissertation. But feel free to go out to the link.

    JOHNNY NEIHU’S NEWS WATCH: Crime, punishment … panda robots

    By Johnny Neihu 強尼內湖

    Saturday, Sep 19, 2009, Page 8

    The stench of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) hypocrisy is overpowering these days — much like the stinky tofu blast that assaults one’s olfactory system during a stroll through the Shida (師大) night market.

    When it comes to KMT criticism of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the party has a serious case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s pretty clear by now that Chen and his missus had their paws in the cookie jar to some degree. Scratch that — they had their mitts, footsies, heads and shoulders crammed in the damn jar.

    Still, the KMT’s A-bian hatred has gone to a ridiculous extreme.

    First, they mooted a law that would strip former heads of state of their stipends and other benefits if found guilty of corruption in a first trial. Never mind that there’s already a law on the books to do just that after due process has expired.

    Nah, that’s just a formality, the KMT says. Strip him of his rights — now.

    Then, the party said it was time to “decriminalize” personal use of the special funds of officials. For those who remember as far back as 2006, this was precisely the crime that sparked the whole anti-Chen “Red Shirt” movement.

    Maybe this has something to do with the 200 local officials — many KMTers — who are now under investigation for use of said funds. Ya think?

    Look next for the KMT to follow Aceh’s lead and propose death by stoning — but only for former presidents who wear pomelo rinds on their head and are found guilty of corruption.

    As for former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), let’s amend the law to allow for public caning — just like they were going to do in Malaysia for that model who sucked down a brewskie. But the law has to be restricted to former first ladies who have been found guilty of corruption. And who use wheelchairs.

    There’s a fundamentalist zeal about the way the KMT is going after A-bian and his family. It wouldn’t be so sickening were it not for that party’s long record of bumbling misrule and its institutionalization of official graft — petty or otherwise.

    Anyone with a shred of history under his belt would agree that most of the KMT’s “rule” is properly viewed as one massive organized crime racket, with party and government officials from the lowly township all the way to the metropole sucking on the teat of the state to their heart’s delight — usually at the expense of us hard-working benshengren.

    Now they want to get all judgmental and moralistic when one of those benshengren rises up and follows their lead? (“Ya learned too good, kid. Now get back in your place.”)

    But don’t take it from me. Just look at this excerpt from the court ruling (my translation):

    Judgment in the case of Chen Shui-bian (hereafter “The Evil One”) and Wu Shu-jen (hereafter “That Beeatch”)

    Taipei District Court, Three Judge Panel, Justice Tsai Shou-hsun [蔡守訓] presiding

    “Hear ye, hear ye, in the case of The Evil One, this Court, mindful of its duties as Guardian of the Laws of the Land, renders the following judgments, in situ, e pluribus unum and in dolce et decorum est.

    “On the charge of embezzlement of funds from the state affairs fund, we, the aforesaid Court, find The Evil One guilty of embezzlement, the punishment being life in prison. We, the Court, also recommend waterboarding and the pulling of fingernails with pliers, but as said punishments remain unlisted in the Punitive Techniques appendix to the Criminal Code, the Court at this time refrains from mandating said punishments until said Code is amended.”

    And look at all the other punishments they piled on:

    ‧ Corruption (life sentence, plus NT$200 million fine)

    ‧ Accepting bribes (20 years in prison)

    ‧ Money laundering (8 years)

    ‧ Dressing as Superman in public (36 years)

    ‧ Bad pronunciation of Guoyu (17 years)

    ‧ Becoming president (22 years)

    ‧ Failing to demonstrate proper respect for glorious leader Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) at regular intervals (34 years, plus 1,000 hours of community service)

    ‧ Being annoying (88 years)

    Still, for the local media, A-bian’s plight is old news. We’ve moved on to the question of whether new Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) went to Hong Kong to get the Chicoms’ blessing on his new post via an intermediary — Hong Kong stooge (read: chief executive-in-waiting) Leung Chun-ying (梁振英).

    There’s been a lot of fuss about this in recent days, so I’m delighted that NewsWatch had the foresight to dispatch a researcher to shadow Wu on his trip.

    Here’s what Wu really got up to in Hong Kong, according to our crack researcher’s notes:

    Sept. 5

    1pm: Whisked immediately from airport to Victoria Peak tram station.

    1:30pm: Marveled at how waxworks at Madame Tussauds look more lifelike than honorary KMT formaldehyde chamber, Lien Chan (連戰).

    1:41pm: Got bent out of shape when Mrs. Wu spent 10 minutes ogling and posing for photos with wax David Beckham.

    3pm: Nathan Road, Kowloon. Bought fake Rolexes for new Cabinet.

    4pm: Tea at the Peninsula with Leung Chun-ying. Roughly 5 minutes spent talking mudslide prevention. Another 115 minutes spent discussing plans for the “Glorious Greater China Co-Prosperity Sphere” while nibbling at scones with cottled cream.

    9:30pm: Temple Street Night Market. Dined on chicken claw and rice. Browsed through cut-rate used British porn mags. Bought six for the price of five.

    12am: Mrs. Wu is left at the hotel; “Boys’ Night Out” with Leung in Wanchai. Wu seen consulting Tagalog phrasebook.

    Sept. 6

    9am: Ocean Park. Bleary-eyed Wu visits panda enclosure, remarks on how similar pandas are to those at Taipei Zoo, gets emotional. Gets in shoving match with unruly mainland tourists after spending more than allotted 3 minutes ogling the bears. Conflict defused by joint sing-a-long of PRC anthem; Wu seen raising triumphant fist during the “Qilai! Qilai!” bit.

    12pm: Blow-out buffet lunch and all-you-can-drink champagne with Leung and buddies at Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Stanley. Presence of more than 45 chain-smoking Chicom party hacks and prosties nearly capsizes boat.

    2:30pm: Wu and wife in ugly public argument at Hong Kong airport duty-free before return flight to Taipei over Mrs. Wu’s discovery of text message on Wu’s phone from “Manila Jane.” Cosmetics thrown.

    Forget politics — there’s a far more serious development this week. As if Taiwan’s culture of cute hadn’t gotten out of hand, the news is that some of our top researchers are devoting their time and energy to creating a “panda robot.”

    Here’s Agence France-Presse: ‘The panda robot will be very cute and more attracted to humans. Maybe the panda robot can be made to sing a panda song,’ said Jerry Lin (林其禹), the centre’s 52-year-old director.”

    No, no … for the love of Matsu, no. It’s already bad enough to have to listen to cutesy kid voices singing TV jingles hawking everything from “Pinky, Pinky, Pinky sanzhong kouwei” to reinforced toilet paper.

    Would someone please shut down this lab before this research gains traction?

    It gets worse: “Lin’s long-term dream is to create a fully-functioning Robot Theatre of Taiwan, with an ensemble of life-like robots able to sing, dance and entertain.

    “Two robotic pioneers, Thomas and Janet, appeared before an audience in Taiwan in December, performing scenes from The Phantom of the Opera, but that was just the beginning, Lin said.”

    All that high-tech skill creating advanced robots, and you wanna make them warble saccharine tunes from an over-exposed, cheesy and witless musical?

    We humans do just fine at producing crap entertainment, thank you very much. Let’s leave the robots for jobs that only they can do — like being an honorary KMT chairman.

    The cute craze has reached epidemic proportions, and at the Neihu household at least, barfbag supplies are running low. And I’m worried, because at this delicate time, Taiwan’s “Hello Kitty” hospital has made it back on the radar, thanks to a couple of bloggers and the “Weird Asia” site.

    But kudos to the site for at least running photos of the “Hello Kitty” assault rifle (though the mouthless cat should be in front of the rifle, not plastered on its side) —XXX censored XXX—.

    Speaking of the mouthless wonder, my favorite quote of the week comes from Betelnut T-shirt’s Ma Chunfu (馬君輔), courtesy of this rag’s Features page on Wednesday.

    Ma defends one of his company’s shirts, which depicts Hello Kitty —XXX censored XXX— Mickey Mouse, —XXX censored XXX—.

    Ma said: “It isn’t meant to be misogynistic. For one thing, Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth, —XXX censored XXX—.”

    Ironclad logic, that.

    Got something to tell Johnny? Get it off your chest: Write to dearjohnny at taipeitimes.com, but put “Dear Johnny” in the subject line or he’ll mark your bouquets and brickbats as spam.

  143. Steve Says:

    Hi Jerry~ I know you were away from the blog for a few months but since that time, we’ve clamped down on posting entire articles unless they directly bear on the topic. Your first posted article did just that but the Johnny Neihu article did not. You’re welcome to post excerpts and a link and it’d also be best for you to include commentary on why you feel it is relevant to the post. We want to make it easier for our readers to scan a thread without it getting watered down with long pasted articles. Thanks!

  144. Josef Says:

    Steve @ 132: I really appreciate your comment (of course it is off the original topic). 60 years independence changed the mindset of many Taiwanese, who certainly call themselves of the Chinese race, if they are, but don’t see any reason to have a ruler in Beijing. Having said that, I could also imagine that Taiwan follows the Swiss example and becomes a neutral country, which at any time can defend itself. Switzerland was completely surrounded 70 years ago, but Germany at that time knew, that the possible victory would bear high costs.
    Another interesting fact is that Switzerland joined the U.N. very late, especially if you take into account that the headquarters are in Geneva: They did not need this recognition, furthermore even disliked the U.N.’s minimal influence into their own politics. What I want to say: not being recognized by the U.N. is not necessarily a stopper, more serious is the pressure from China with other means.
    I don’t see any unification likely in the future, unless the Taiwanese Government bypass the peoples vote, i.e. by simply not asking them. But I do see and hope for a normalization between the two countries, ignoring the actual naming of this normalization, “one china” or whatever. I think Lee Hui Tang said: Taiwan does not need to declare independence as it is already independent.

  145. Allen Says:

    Judicial soap operas also occur in France, see e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/world/europe/25france.html?_r=1&ref=world

    PARIS — A bitter political trial became even more so on Thursday after President Nicolas Sarkozy, a plaintiff in the case, called those on trial “guilty parties.”

    Prominent among those in the dock is Mr. Sarkozy’s political rival Dominique de Villepin, a former prime minister who is accused with four others of planning a smear campaign in 2003-4 intended to undermine Mr. Sarkozy’s presidential ambitions.

    In a nationally televised interview on Wednesday night from New York, where Mr. Sarkozy was attending the United Nations General Assembly session, he said that “after a two-year investigation, two independent investigating judges ruled that the guilty parties should be tried before a criminal court.”

    Mr. Sarkozy did not name names, but his comments were seized upon as a violation of his responsibility as president to be above the law, even while he is a plaintiff in the case.

    Mr. de Villepin’s lawyer called Mr. Sarkozy’s remarks “scandalous” and said the former prime minister would file suit against Mr. Sarkozy for violating his right to a presumption of innocence. But under French law, the president cannot be tried until he leaves office.

    Mr. Sarkozy’s current political rivals jumped on board what quickly became a political sideshow to a political trial.

    The case is known as Clearstream, after a Luxembourg clearinghouse, where a list that purported to show clients holding secret bank accounts, supposedly linked to kickbacks from arms sales, was leaked to a judge. The list of accounts, only later discovered to have been faked, included versions of Mr. Sarkozy’s name, and he joined some 39 other plaintiffs in seeking redress.

    Olivier Metzner, the lawyer for Mr. de Villepin, said that Mr. Sarkozy had overstepped badly in the interview. “Mr. Sarkozy asserted from New York, in front of all France, that Mr. de Villepin was guilty because he was brought to justice,” Mr. Metzner said. “Is this the image of justice that the president gives France?”

    François Bayrou, leader of the centrist Democratic Movement party, said: “Mr. Freud would say that this was a revealing slip, revealing the ambiguity of Nicolas Sarkozy’s position in this affair. He is a civil plaintiff, that is, he has filed a complaint as a victim, and also the guarantor of justice, the prosecutors’ top superior in the hierarchy.”

    The trial itself has become a spectacle, given the Sarkozy-de Villepin rivalry, which also has elements of social and class prejudice. Mr. Sarkozy is a lawyer, while Mr. de Villepin went to elite schools, served as a diplomat, writes poetry but was never elected to any national post.

    The trial also may reveal some of the normally murky relationships between state officials and EADS, the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company. A former EADS employee, Imad Lahoud, acknowledged creating the list; an EADS vice president, Jean-Louis Gergorin, is also on trial and is accused of leaking it.

  146. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #145: I believe this case is also linked to the Taiwan frigate scandal. Can you tell us in more detail how this article is related to the thread topic? ;)

  147. Allen Says:

    @Steve #146,

    To me it’s linked in the sense that in both cases, there are accusationss that other branches of gov’t is interfering with the carrying out of justice. In the French case, Sarkozy’s mere accusation that someone is guilty triggered cries of foul play. Sarkozy is the ultimate boss of the prosecutor … and his bias can be used to push the prosecutor in some baised fashion.

    In both cases, there are also cries that we are having a political trial – not a carryingout of justice.

    In both cases, there are murky, unclear areas of law regarding what is exactly proper and what is not.

    In both cases, the president is technically immune while he is still president. Just wait till Sarkozy’s till is over?

    As for relation to the Taiwan frigate scandal, well that’s too obvious so I’m not going to waste time explaining it. I’ll give you a hint though: if you meditate really hard, you might see it crystal clear in black and white and no shades as I do! ;-)

  148. Jason Says:

    Continuing on #123:

    Lee Teng-hui-A tyrant. Why? Since Taiwan doesn’t have a run-off election to establish an absolute majority and solid electoral mandate for their own parties, Lee was responsible to pick he best and most popular KMT candidate. But as it turns out in 1994, Lee coerced Mayor Huang Ta-chou, who knew he was unelectable due to voter dissatisfaction with his job performance, to run in a three way race. Later, Chen Shui-Bian wins his mayoral duties.

    It happened in March 18, 2000 again. KMT Party Chairman Lee Teng-hui deliberately coerces his own party’s unelectable Lien Chan at that time, whose numbers are mired in the low to mid teens, to run against the immensely popular pro-reunification James Soong, whom Lee excommunicated from the KMT and who subsequently ran as an independent. Chen won by 300,000 votes out of 12 million registered voters and an 83% voter turnout, Chen was handed the keys to the Presidential Palace. Soong received 37% of the vote. Lien received 23%. Again, this split the pro-reunification vote, clearing the way for rabid separatist Chen to squeak by with a mere 39% plurality. Sixty one percent of the voting public in the Republic of China voted against the separatist Chen.

    So what’s Lee Teng-hui motive for picking the weakness of KMT to run off against Chen Shui Bian?

    Lee is a pro-Japan Quisling and a covert Taiwan separatist. In an infamous 1995 interview with the late Japanese journalist Ryotaro Shiba, Lee likened himself to Moses, leading his people out of Egypt, i.e., China, and to the promised land, i.e., Japan. Lee later likened rabid separatist Chen Shui-bian of the “opposition” DPP to Mose’s successor, Joshua.

    Lee wanted to split enough of the pro-reunification vote from the pro-reunification New Party’s Jaw Shaw-kang to ensure that Chen Shui-bian would ascend to office of Mayor of Taipei, a traditional stepping stone to the Republic of China’s presidency.

    This sleazy, anti-democratic electoral sleight of hand, calculated to deny the voters a result which actually reflected the popular will, was referred to as “qi Huang, bao Chen,” or “dump Huang, save Chen,” and successfully handed the keys to the City of Taipei to Chen.

    The week before the election Lee not only misused party resources, but public resources to brainwash trusting pro-reunification KMT members to “save Lien, dump Soong,” on the false pretext of preventing the pro-independence Chen from winning.

    Among his many transgressions, Lee violated ROC election laws, which prohibit the release of poll results starting ten days prior to election day. The purpose of these laws is to prevent the misuse of phony polls designed to influence election results.

    What did “Mr. Democracy” (Time Magazine’s ironic nickname for Lee) do? Lee ordered the release of not one, but TWO sets of poll results. One real, one phony.

    Real poll results, which accurately reflected how far Soong was in the lead, were supplied to the “opposition” DPP Chen Shui-bian’s campaign committee, helping them fine-tune their campaign tactics to shifting public moods.

    Phony poll results, which falsely alleged Lee Teng-hui puppet Lien Chan was leading Soong, were deliberately leaked to the public at large.

    *Chen Shui-Bian*

    ^Read #65

    Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-Bian’s pro-independence policies destroyed Taiwan’s economy and society.

    *What would you call Russia’s presence in Cuba during the 60’s? What is your take on the “Cuban Missile Crisis”, which I happened to live through as a lad?*

    Imperialism. Since you brought this up, Why should China be blamed for this? Mao’s ideas was distinct to Soviet’s ideas. Why should China have a burden that US is doing the same as Russians?

    In what specific language does the TRA commit us to go to war? Are you saying that all of the military bases that the US has all over the globe are unconstitutional? Are you saying that all of the US defense treaties ratified by Congress are unconstitutional? Where in the constitution does it say what you allege? Where has the US made an open-ended commitment to go to war?

    Are you aware that interventionism is unconstitutional? After Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor…United States has violated their constitution for non-intervention.

    Yes, yes.

  149. Jerry Says:

    @Jason #148, @Steve

    Since you brought this up, Why should China be blamed for this? Mao’s ideas was distinct to Soviet’s ideas. Why should China have a burden that US is doing the same as Russians?

    Touchy, touchy, Jason. I never accused China of having anything to do with the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is just a corollary; but rather than give you some dry, academic, theoretical response, I answered with a real situation. I brought up the Cuban Missile Crisis in response to one of your questions, “How would the US feel if China did … .” Cuba is 90 miles off the Florida Coast. Well, we already know how it feels.

    Cuba had been a quasi-American protectorate since Teddy and his cohorts kicked out the Spanish in the Spanish-American War. The Americans were none too happy when Fidel Castro came around in the 1950’s. The nerve of Castro wanting independence for Cuba or whatever it was that he put in place in Cuba. The nerve of him throwing Batista out on his tuchus. :D Castro did expropriate private property without even a semblance of compensation. It was a very mixed bag (except to some of my close Cuban friends my age who hate Castro and consider him the devil incarnate)

    The CIA was convinced that Castro was some commie devil. During the last year of Eisenhower’s presidency, the CIA, under Ike’s direction, plotted a takeover/invasion (or take-back) of Cuba. The invasion, known now as the “Bay of Pigs Invasion” was carried out during the first few months of the new Kennedy administration, in April 1961. The invasion failed miserably. I remember it vividly.

    Castro, naturally, became concerned about the potential for future US invasions. Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, decided to come to the aid of Cuba. Was Nikita being philanthropic, altruistic and heroic? Hardly, but the world operates by a messy set of checks and balances. The crisis resulted in a stand-down by all sides. Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and U Thant, UN Sec’y General, negotiated a treaty in which the US would not invade Cuba and the Soviets would remove the missiles from Cuba. And US Jupiter missiles, aimed at the USSR, were removed from Turkey.

    I see similarities, to the above, with the situation between the 2 countries, China and Taiwan. Amongst other actions and proclamations, China has aimed imperialistic missiles (and fired them occasionally) at Taiwan. America has come to the aid of Taiwan and its defense. Are American motives here pure, noble and altruistic? I don’t think so. But as I said before, the world operates by a messy set of checks and balances. Pshaw! Too bad! C’est la vie, monsieur!

    Jason, life is messy and ugly! :D

    “Are you aware that interventionism is unconstitutional? After Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor…United States has violated their constitution for non-intervention.”

    Fortunately, you are neither a constitutional lawyer nor constitutional scholar. Please define your term, “interventionism”. Perhaps you might include a legal definition here. Something that would aid a discussion.

    Then please explain why interventionism is unconstitutional and what bearing it has in the relationship between the US and Taiwan. I am most curious.

  150. Jason Says:

    Thomas Jefferson spoke for the founders and all our early presidents when he stated: “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none…” which is, “one of the essential principles of our government”.

    US Interventionism: Foreign alliances and meddling in the internal affairs of other nations. On many occasions, involvement in military action occurred through UN resolutions or a presidential executive order, despite the fact that the war power was explicitly placed in the hands of Congress. United States have totally forgotten that for well over a hundred years we followed the advice of the founders by meticulously avoiding overseas conflicts. Instead US now find ourselves in charge of an American hegemony spread to the four corners of the earth.

    For the relationship between US and Taiwan and why is interventionism …I think you are smarter enough to figure it out by yourself.

  151. Jerry Says:

    @Jason #108, #148, #150, @Steve

    Snideness will get you everywhere! And nowhere! :D

    Let’s be a little more precise here. You made the assertion in #148 that “Are you aware that interventionism is unconstitutional? After Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor…United States has violated their constitution for non-intervention.”

    So, I asked in #149, “Then please explain why interventionism is unconstitutional and what bearing it has in the relationship between the US and Taiwan.”

    You respond by quoting Jefferson’s opinion. (I don’t think he was speaking ex cathedra.) You then essentially tell me that it is so apparent that the relationship between Taiwan and the US is interventionism that I should figure it out myself.

    That is hardly a QED, Jason. In fact, you have not demonstrated anything here; sorry, NO QED. When has any aspect of the US relationship with Taiwan been unconstitutional? Who adjudicated the matter and found it unconstitutional? Precisely how is the US practicing interventionism in Taiwan?

    Finally, you wrote in #108, “Last point, Taiwan Relations Act violates the US Constitution.” Please demonstrate this. Again, who adjudicated this matter and found the TRA unconstitutional?

    I believe that you are merely waving and flailing your arms and hands in the air regarding this matter. Rather than making a case for your assertions.

  152. Josef Says:

    Jason, you wrote: “Soong received 37% of the vote. Lien received 23%. Again, this split the pro-reunification vote”
    Do you really believe that the pro-unification rate was 37% from Soong and 23% from Lien? Don’t mix up “Zhong Hua” with “Zhong Guo”.
    In an article in the newspaper China-Post, which might be close to your point of view, called “Sorrow of being Taiwanese”, July 23, a poll under Taiwanese students was quoted, where 83% mentioned China as “unfriendly to Taiwan” while the winner for “most friendly to Taiwan” was Japan with 44%. This is the opinion of young people, which accepts the facts (Taiwan is independent) and simply look forward. If you are not occupied and can defend yourself – what is the added value to be ruled from outside – Beijing? The rest is words only. I wrote before I liked Steve’s comment in 132, as he wrote:
    “In the history of mankind, no democracy has ever voluntarily been taken over by a non-democracy. No developed country has ever been voluntarily taken over by an developing country.”
    And that’s it.
    I don’t think you can count on Ma for reunification either: His top agenda point is the consolidation of the KMT power, with any means. And with that we come back to the original discussion.
    There is a temptation for a conspiracy theory that the verdicts not only should punish Chen and his family, but also sets a warning mark for others. Green supporters called it the replacement of the “white terror” by the “blue terror”. Like “If you ever support the opposition to KMT we will even go for your family”, because “you must have known”… .Of course that is ridiculous and does not work – alone because moderate KMT factions will not support it. But it can damage a lots in the short term.
    For Taiwan I just hope that at some time moderate forces in both parties will gain priority and start to respect the opinion of the other side. And with that, serve for Taiwan’s people and not their political party members only. Chinese politicians (I mean Mainland China here) are reasonable enough to recognize win-win situations and the damage which nationalism can do.
    Jason, you also wrote “destroy Taiwan’s economy”. Open your eyes. What happened the last twelve years is unbelievable. “Made in Taiwan” stood in the old time for “Cheap and Broken”. In this last decade Taiwan’s industry in Semiconductors, Notebooks, Flat Panels – you name it, stands for world-wide top performance. Certainly an heritage for the investments into education, done during the Chiang’s dictatorships, but also a result that during this last decade not only KMT-princes and princesses were given leading positions. A final ironic remark: Chen was often named a “brilliant” lawyer, Ma never received this attribute but nevertheless it was Ma who was sent to Harvard.

  153. Steve Says:

    @ Jason #148: After reading your comment, I have a few questions:

    1- You wrote, “Lee Teng-hui-A tyrant” but you gave no reasons for labeling him as such. The definition of tyrant is “an absolute ruler who governs without restrictions” and “a ruler who exercises power in a harsh, cruel manner.” As head of the KMT party, he had the authority to do what he did so how is that being a tyrant? It’d also make the two Jiangs far greater tyrants in comparison. Is this what you’re trying to say?

    2- You wrote, “James Soong, whom Lee excommunicated from the KMT and who subsequently ran as an independent.” He did no such thing. Soong tried to resign from the KMT in 1998 (because under Lee the government eliminated the position of Governor of Taiwan as redundant) but Lee did not accept his resignation. By doing so, they were acknowledging that the President really didn’t run mainland China and were trying to streamline the government. Do you think that was an incorrect assessment? Do you think the President of Taiwan actually governed mainland China? It was also at this time that the government eliminated the Provincial legislature based in Taichung (where my brother-in-law served for 18 years) because it was also redundant since they had a national legislature (to run mainland China) based in Taipei. Do you think going to a unicameral legislature was an unrealistic policy?

    In 2000, Soong CHOSE to run as an independent and was excommunicated from the KMT AFTER he did so. The party excommunicated him, not Lee.

    3- You wrote, “Sixty one percent of the voting public in the Republic of China voted against the separatist Chen.” Yes, and sixty three percent of the voting public voted against the party traitor Soong while 77% voted against Lien. Does that mean if Soong had not been a traitor to his own party, Lien would have won with 61% of the vote??? If so, isn’t Soong the villain here?

    If you study the history of the KMT, they pick the senior candidate, not the most popular or qualified. That’s how Marxist/Leninist parties work within a one party system. The KMT didn’t actually believe Chen or the DPP stood a chance to win the election and they would have been correct if Soong hadn’t bolted from the party.

    4- You wrote, “Lee is a pro-Japan Quisling and a covert Taiwan separatist.” Do you even know what the word “quisling” means? I’ll help you out. The dictionary definition is “a traitor who serves as the puppet of the enemy occupying his or her country.” So who was occupying Taiwan that Lee was serving? I seem to recall that China fired missiles off Taiwan’s coast in 1996. Is that the act of a friendly nation? Don’t you think there’d be a negative reaction to that?

    5- You wrote, “Lee wanted to split enough of the pro-reunification vote from the pro-reunification New Party’s Jaw Shaw-kang to ensure that Chen Shui-bian would ascend to office of Mayor of Taipei, a traditional stepping stone to the Republic of China’s presidency.”

    That’s a strong charge. Where’s your evidence? I also seem to recall that in the following Taipei mayoral election, Chen had more popular votes than Ma but Ma still won under the existing KMT written election rules. Is that also a travesty in your opinion?

    6- You wrote, “The week before the election Lee not only misused party resources, but public resources to brainwash trusting pro-reunification KMT members to “save Lien, dump Soong,” on the false pretext of preventing the pro-independence Chen from winning.”

    That’s also a strong change. Where’s your evidence? You say he “brainwashed” KMT members. The definition for brainwashing is “a method for systematically changing attitudes or altering beliefs, originated in totalitarian countries, esp. through the use of torture, drugs, or psychological-stress techniques.” Are you serious? To me, you’ve now lost all credibility.

    7- You wrote, “Among his many transgressions, Lee violated ROC election laws, which prohibit the release of poll results starting ten days prior to election day. The purpose of these laws is to prevent the misuse of phony polls designed to influence election results. Real poll results, which accurately reflected how far Soong was in the lead, were supplied to the “opposition” DPP Chen Shui-bian’s campaign committee, helping them fine-tune their campaign tactics to shifting public moods. Phony poll results, which falsely alleged Lee Teng-hui puppet Lien Chan was leading Soong, were deliberately leaked to the public at large.”

    Another charge. Again, where’s your evidence that Lee himself released these polls? The DDP also had their own poll results, just as all political parties do so they didn’t need the KMT’s help to know the correct numbers. BTW, they learned how to take sophisticated political polls from the American Democratic party.

    8- You wrote, “Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-Bian’s pro-independence policies destroyed Taiwan’s economy and society.” The Taiwan GDP in 1988 was $7,907.18 US and in 2008, $30,881.48 US. It grew every year but one, and the growth in actual dollars was greater during Chen’s terms than during Lee’s. Exactly how did they destroy Taiwan’s economy and society? I was living there during Chen’s first term. Business was booming and the society was fine. Where were you living while all this was going on? What numbers or criteria are you using to make this judgment?

    It’s obvious you don’t like Lee or Chen. I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is your series of unsubstantiated accusations with nothing to back them up, some of which, as I’ve outlined, are blatantly false.

  154. Jason Says:

    @ Jerry

    Seriously, it is QED. Taiwan’s problem against China is Taiwanese business not United States. Taiwan can defend themselves by making THEIR OWN artillery not buying from elsewhere to defend themselves.

    Since you think the Thomas Jefferson’s opinion is nothing, what about the 2 other founding fathers’ “opinions:” George Washington advised the country to avoid “foreign entanglements.” John Quincy Adams wrote that the U.S. “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”

  155. justkeeper Says:

    Going offtopic here, I can think of times when developed, democratic regions(not countries)getting annexed peacefully by undemocratic, developing country.

  156. Steve Says:

    @ justkeeper: Ok, you’ve piqued my curiosity. Could you list them? :)

  157. justkeeper Says:

    @Steve #157: To your disappointment, Steve, they’re Hong Kong(developed and democratic) and Macau(developed and non-democratic).

  158. Lime Says:

    @Justkeeper
    At risk of splitting hairs here, I don’t think Hong Kong was ever democratic. The head of government was always an appointed governor under British rule, and don’t think either Macao or Hong Kong were so much annexed as they were ceded. Goa might be a better example, though I don’t know how developed it was, it was probably more developed than most of India at the time (certainly not democratic of course). How about Czechoslovakia? I believe it was both democratic and more developed than the USSR when they rolled in in 1986. Arguably, the USSR’s takeover of East Germany could be an example of a less developed country taking over a more developed one, though again without the democratic part.

  159. justkeeper Says:

    @Lime: Goa and Czechoslovakia were both taken over by force, Steve was saying something like “voluntarily” and I lower the standard to “peacefully”, although I have got a 70% confidence that about 70% of the Hong Kong and Macau people were in favor of the taking over.

  160. Josef Says:

    @justkeeper: “peacefully” – yes there was no fighting. But the 70% is speculation. What speaks against that, is, that Hong Kong and Taiwanese have one thing in common: they want to be their own boss (lao ban) of their own shop. And from this mind set it is very unlikely, given a free vote without war pressure, that they would choose some ruler in Beijing.
    “peacefully”: (not in the context of democratic or developed) Austria was taken “peacefully” by Nazi-Germany in the forties, they voted even with great majority for it, nevertheless, in todays standards this take-over is called occupation.
    I don’t regard Hong Kong or Macao as an example, but probably we just agree here that we disagree.

  161. justkeeper Says:

    @Josef: You probably know too little about Hong Kong. In fact, local people know too clear that it’s technically impossible(whether CCP wishes it or not) for them to become their own boss, how can they become their own boss when most of their food and drinking water is supplied from the mainland? Besides, the Hong Kongers are assured of quite a number of democratic rights, including the right to vote, although the electon is not actually universal suffrage. And you have really underestimated the central government’s influence in Hong Kong even before the unification. In fact, even at the height of Mao’s rule, there was still strong left-wing force in Hong Kong supportive of CCP, let alone people supporting reunification of China yet want CCP to go away at the same time. Yes, I know the June 4th Incident scared a large number of Hong Kongers to flee abroad. But those remaining (still the majority) find out their lives are untroubled and sometimes a strong central government do provides benefits. A number of polls have also shown that the number of residents in Hong Kong considering themselve to be without any Chinese identification decreased significantly since the reunification, but never accounts for more than 25% of the total population. So, I’m confident to say that most local residents are in favor of the reunification(I did not say they all support CCP), especially when most of them could be offered British National Overseas identity.

  162. Lime Says:

    @Justkeeper
    Could you provide your sources on these polls in Hong Kong?

  163. justkeeper Says:

    @Lime : Can you read Chinese?

  164. Steve Says:

    @ justkeeper #157: Why do you think I’d be disappointed? I’m not disappointed at all. ;)

    Both were developed but neither were democratic. Neither made the decision to reunify with China, that decision was made for them by the UK and Portugal. Neither were countries; both were colonies that went back to their mother country. Also, both were city states, so not even regions. For me, Yunnan province is a region.

    The setup of the HK government is such where the CCP always has control of the government, so it is a very limited democracy. Since they weren’t democratic under the Brits, there wasn’t a democratic precedent already in place until Patten tried to do so just before re-unification by extending the franchise. Opposition is allowed but they are prohibited from becoming a majority party or assuming control of the government.

    If Taiwan voluntarily re-unifies with China by a vote of the people, that would be a first as far as I know. They are relatively democratic and relatively developed. My first trip there was in 1993 and from then until 2001, an enormous change took place, especially in Taipei. I was shocked how poor the infrastructure was on my first trip there. It’s gotten much better since then but still not where it should be. Infrastructure development is coming along in the biggest cities but not enough is being done in the smaller cities and countryside.

  165. Raj Says:

    justkeeper

    About Hong Kong, you would agree that HongKongese want universal suffrage in regard to LegCo and the Chief Exec, with no more functional constituencies? I agree that they don’t want independence from China, but they’d prefer to at least choose their own leaders and representatives directly even if they’re going to have to care about what China thinks. Maybe that’s what josef was talkig about?

  166. Lime Says:

    @Justkeeper
    一點點。

  167. justkeeper Says:

    @Raj : And I was only saying that 70% of Hong Kong people would be in favor of a Chinese taking over. Regarding universal suffrage, I have no objection, whether it’s suitable for them or not, if a referendum is held and the end result is in favor of that, no one can change it if people have made their voice being heard.天要下雨,娘要嫁人。
    @Steve: I didn’t read your comment 132 until now, well I was just trying to say the same thing, this is a hugely challenging issue, but China maybe the only country with the potential to set the precedence, and their experience with power transition in Hong Kong and Macau would be precious.

  168. Steve Says:

    @ justkeeper #167: I’ve never been to Macao, only Hong Kong so I have no feel at all as to how the people there viewed the takeover. From what I had read, the Portuguese were pretty “hands off” in terms of government and that transition seems to have gone very smoothly. Hong Kong has had more ups and downs but right now things seem to be going pretty well. In my opinion, once the CCP replaced Tung Chee-hwa with Donald Tsang, things got a lot better.

    However, it is naive to think that Taiwan is anything like Hong Kong. They are completely different and nothing annoys the Taiwanese more than to be compared to Hong Kong. I don’t see how they can apply anything they learn from Hong Kong to the Taiwan situation. When they try to do so, it only antagonizes the Taiwanese and makes the situation worse. That was Jiang’s approach but I’ve noticed that Hu has taken a softer line and stopped the HK/Taiwan comparisons. The results are obvious and for that Hu deserves a lot of credit.

  169. justkeeper Says:

    @Lime: http://hkupop.hku.hk/ there you go. And if you’re looking for polls specifically related to the ethnic identity, here it is, http://hkupop.hku.hk/chinese/popexpress/ethnic/index.html

    @Steve: I should be more clever about this: since the CCP government gets rewarded for being flexible and innovative, it may be motivated to continue extending their theory, that makes it potential to set precedence again. Instead of “one country ,two systems”, why shouldn’t we go one step further and try “one country, two governments” or “one country, two republics”? And I always got the belief that no matter what would be the end result, being flexible always got you the best deal.

  170. Steve Says:

    @ justkeeper #169: I’m with you completely. It would seem economic confederation followed by some sort of political confederation would make a lot more sense for everyone involved. Before I can sell something to you, I have to give you a reason to buy. It’s a lot easier to sell confederation than re-unification, at least in the short run.

  171. Josef Says:

    justkeeper 161: You are correct, my knowledge about Hong Kong is indeed limited. And yes, Raj’s comment is correct too, I referred rather to the postponed and postponed right to vote. Also I would expect that more and more bilateral contracts between Taiwan and PRC, probably finally called confederation, could follow. But I doubt it would lead to a situation that Beijing can directly influence Taiwan’s government decisions, which was my interpretation of “being taken over”. I appreciated all your comments, thanks.

  172. George A. Pompooboozle Says:

    Former President Chen’s lawsuit in the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces was filed in late September 2009.

    Chen claims that Taiwan/ROC is not a country, but merely that Taiwan is “occupied territory of the United States of America.” This does in fact conform to the US Executive Branch’s position that the final political status of Taiwan is undetermined. Obviously, the Republic of China (ROC) does not have sovereignty over Taiwan, because the ROC can’t produce any international legal documents to prove such sovereignty. What the ROC has is “effective territorial control.”

    Chen’s court documents and other background information on Taiwan’s international legal position can be found online at — http://www.taiwanbasic.com/court/

  173. Steve Says:

    @ George #172: Welcome to the blog! This lawsuit was already linked to by admin in comment #133. Do you have a comment on the lawsuit itself? We discussed it earlier and I believe everyone felt it was the act of a desperate man with nothing to lose. How does it look from where you live? Are people talking about it or just dismissing it as fantasy on Chen’s part?

  174. George A. Pompooboozle Says:

    The lawsuit is 24 pages. It is very well written and documented, and discusses a lot of “laws of war” concepts that most so-called legal experts and all the so-called China experts are unfamiliar with. For anyone interested in Taiwan’s international legal personality, the lawsuit and President Chen’s two accompanying affidavits are very much worth reading and studying.

    I think that most people who have read the documents do not think that this is the act of a desperate man, rather it is the act of a person who has woken up to the reality of Taiwan’s international legal position. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Oct. 25, 2004: “Our policy is clear. There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy.”

    Also, Dennis Wilder, National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs, said on Aug. 30, 2007: “Taiwan, or the Republic of China, is not at this point a state in the international community. The position of the United States government is that the ROC — Republic of China — is an issue undecided, and it has been left undecided, as you know, for many, many years.”

    In summary, the ROC is (1) a subordinate occupying power, beginning Oct. 25, 1945, and (2) a government in exile, beginning Dec. 1949. The United States of America is the principal occupying power. Taiwan is occupied territory of the United States of America.

  175. pug_ster Says:

    @George 174,

    I would disagree as that these documents is an act of a desperate man. Even if by some remote chance that the documents he provide is legal proof that Taiwan is part of the US, it does not recuse Chen his crimes of embezzlement.

  176. Steve Says:

    @ George #174: Since I’m not a lawyer, I’ll just have to wait on the verdict. I’m certainly in no position to have an informed opinion concerning Chen’s lawsuit but my gut feeling tells me he’s spitting in the wind.

  177. Josef Says:

    to pug_ster: As far as I remember Chen explicitly emphasized that this action has nothing to do with the trail against him. If others say so – is he not allowed to support it nevertheless?

    In today’s Taipei Times (AIT) Director William Stanton was quoted to have “allegedly expressed concerns about the trial of former president Chen Shui-bian”
    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2009/10/02/2003454978
    And of course some KMT lawmaker chorus started its usual performance.

    The public opinion in Taiwan about this case see Chen guilty as well as the process unfair. The first part is based on the fact that this huge amount of money was found in oversee banks, which Chen claims to be election donations. Now, the Taiwanese system seems to be similar to the American, where unlike in Europe, huge election donations are allowed. I think Obama collected a multiple in one year what Chen claims to have collected over twenty years. I am European – can some of you Americans explain how that works, how you distinguish between a donation and a bribe and why people in America donate this huge sums?
    Of course the counter argument in favor of Chen is, that he just followed exactly the KMT created ways and laws, and again, that everyone should have been treated equally (for example Ma was not jailed during the investigations against him)

    In my naïve approach I see the advantage of the European system, that you can not (officially) buy a politician, and if you do so, it’s a crime. Also it has to do that the person in power, for example in Germany the chancellor, is not directly elected while the German president’s duties there are more protocol related.
    The advantage of the American system, as I see it, is that with this performance display, you select an excellent executive. But I would like to read more professional statements, thanks!
    Someone in this 176 remarks before already mentioned a Taiwanese difference to the American system, saying that Taiwan has no law to prevent the candidate to keep this donations for himself – America has?

  178. Steve Says:

    Hi Josef, you can see the contribution limits for the United States at the Federal Election Commission Citizens Guide.

  179. Josef Says:

    Thanks Steve, that is rather clear but still puzzling

    from: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2009/09/02/222947/Ex-first-lady.htm
    “Diana Chen was charged with perjury, though she gave the ex-first lady NT$10 million in bribe to obtain her Taipei 101 job. She denied the charges, insisting the money was given as a political contribution though she could produce no evidence.”
    Diane Chen did not get the job, but in the U.S. that would not be a political contribution.

    I just googled for donations to Obama and found the sum of 750 Million Dollars.
    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cycle=2008&cid=N00009638
    It seems that he still had 15 Millions cash at hand – would he been allowed to keep that money?

  180. Steve Says:

    Hi Josef~ This might help:

    “Candidates do sometimes end up with surplus funds, though, particularly if they’re incumbent members of Congress who decide not to run for another term. State and local governments have their own rules, but those running for federal office – including presidential candidates – must abide by strict FEC guidelines when it comes to their extra campaign money. They can donate an unlimited amount to a charity or political party. They can also, within limits, make contributions directly to other candidates. A campaign committee can give up to $2000 per election to each candidate. If the committee is converted into a political action committee, the limit jumps to $5000 – but to be established as a PAC, the committee would have to be in existence for six months, receive contributions from 50 donors, and make contributions to five recipients.

    What candidates can’t do with leftover money is use it for personal expenses. Retiring federal lawmakers used to be able to pocket extra cash and use it for cars, vacations, clothes, pet grooming, whatever – but that changed in 1989 with the passage of the Ethics Reform Act.”

    So no, Obama and others cannot keep the money.

    Obama was the most successful fundraiser in American history, but the vast majority of his contributions were small donations from the internet. One way American politicians get large sums of money is through PACs, which bundle individual contributions into larger sums for a common purpose so the lobbying intent is greater. Personally I wish PACs were illegal but the Supreme Court says they’re legal under the first amendment.

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