Taiwan Goal may have been Dissolved, but Suspicions Linger
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 27, 2008
Minister of National Defense Lee Tien-yu has resigned. The Executive Yuan has declared that funds may not enter Taiwan Goal. Taiwan Goal Chairman Wu Nai-jen has announced that he will convene a shareholders' meeting to discuss the dissolution of the company. The controversy appears to be over. But this mysterious company has left us with too many loose ends, too many doubts. The whole truth has yet to be revealed. The Taiwan Goal incident is not over.
A number of doubts hang about Taiwan Goal, remaining to be clarified.
Government funds may have been invested in Taiwan Goal. Taiwan Goal may not have really disbanded. Neither is the point. The point is whether the Ministry of National Defense signed contracts authorizing Taiwan Goal to negotiate arms deals before the scandal broke. Was the Ministry of National Defense negotiating arms deals? Was it close to finalizing these deals, as the media suggests? If it was, what next? Will the Ministry of Defense take over? Or will the original gang carry on? This is critical, but has yet to be clearly explained.
If Lee Tien-yu resigns, if Taiwan Goal has been dissolved, the public will remain in the dark. The same gang will carry on as before, only their machinations will be better hidden. Where the kickbacks went no one will know. The Defense Department can only pay up afterwards. By the time any real investigation has begun, the culprits will have escaped overseas, like Wang Chuan-pu. By then, even assuming the Taiwan Goal case is brought to light, it will all be for naught.
Lee Tien-yu has hastily resigned. The official explanation is that he is assuming political responsibility for the improper handling of the Taiwan Goal case. But everyone knows this is not the real reason. The most widely held view is that:
One. The Presidential Office "suggested" that Lee Tien-yu resign.
Two. Lee Tien-yu knew his situation was not encouraging, so he bailed out early to avoid entanglement in any emerging scandal.
The inside story may not emerge in the short term, but whatever it is, it won't be straightforward. If Lee Tien-yu was "urged" to step down, obviously he was "less than effective in supporting Taiwan Goal." He may even have been "less than willing to support Taiwan Goal."
If the latter, that would mean Lee Tien-yu was fully aware that vast interests were involved, and the case was highly controversial. If he didn't draw a clear line of demarcation between himself and the scandal he could easily get burned, and wind up as the fall guy.
Within the military, Lee Tien-yu has long been regarded as Chen Shui-bian's man. If even Lee could not avoid being purged, becoming the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's shortest-serving Defense Minister, what sort of unspeakable acts were being committed behind the scenes?
The most intriguing aspect of the Taiwan Goal case, from beginning to end, is also the one least accounted for. Namely, why was everything under the direction of the New Tide Faction's "Two Jens?" Chiou I-jen, from behind-the-scenes, and Wu Nai-jen, from center stage? In the past, experienced politicians never got involved in arms procurement. The Two Jens carry considerable weight within the party and the administration. The two belong to the same faction. How dare they brazenly set up companies and elbow their way into the game, secretly negotiating important mulitnational arms deals? Especially within the context of a caretaker government, and clearly with the intention of evading legislative oversight? Who is going to believe that no selfish interests were involved? Lee Tien-yu has stepped down. His successor, Tsai Min-teh, just happens to be a New Tide Faction member.
Perhaps this is just a coincidence. But the impression it leaves the outside world is that obstacles were being removed to make way for "one of our own." To assert that the Taiwan Goal scandal is over, given the circumstances, strains anybody's credulity.
No one denies that given the mainland's authorities' blockade and suppression, the ROC has a hard time buying weapons. In order to maintain the most basic requirements of national defense and national security, we must remain flexible. After all, arms procurements often involve astronomical sums. Even the tiniest discounts involve staggering numbers. Absent systematic oversight, absent internal and external control mechanisms, arms sales are a hotbed for corruption. The Yin Ching-feng case remains seared in our memory. To this day, that military procurement scandal remains an albatross around the Kuomintang's neck. The DPP needs to open its eyes. If the Taiwan Goal scandal is not followed-up and handled properly, it is likely to become an albatross around the DPP's neck.
Therefore spare us any specious claims that Taiwan Goal was established to promote domestic arms production, or that the dissolution of Taiwan Goal will damage the nation's interests. Even the right thing, done at the wrong time, by the wrong people, in the wrong way, is the wrong thing. Besides, if Taiwan Goal is truly innocent, why is Frank Hsieh distancing himself from it?
國 防部長李天羽請辭，行政院宣布資金禁入鐽震，而鐽震的董事長吳乃仁聲明將召開股東會討論公司解散事宜，到此為止，這樁引發莫大爭議的事件好似就此落幕。但 就是因為這家神祕的公司留下了太多的疑點與空白，在全部真相還沒有完全揭露前，鐽震事件恐怕不能太輕易的就讓它成為「過去式」。
首 先，不論政府投資鐽震的資金是否已經確定不會到位，也不論鐽震公司屆時會不會真的解散，這其實都不是重點，重點是在先前鐽震公司還未曝光的運作期間，國防 部是否已經與鐽震公司簽訂了若干授權合約？或是已經實質洽談了若干軍火採購，而且也是否真如部分媒體所傳，是否都已經接近定案？如果答案是肯定的，那麼接 下來會怎麼處理？由國防部接手處理，還是由原班人馬繼續操作？這一點到現在都沒清楚交代，卻是相當關鍵。
試想，如果李天羽辭職，鐽震公司 解散，換來的只是「化明為暗」，一切操作還是由同一批人在運作，只是變得更隱密。屆時相關回扣去了那裡也沒人知道，國防部只有事後埋單的份，等到真正開始 追究，亦不過是台灣再多幾位避居海外的「汪傳浦」而已，那麼就算此刻揭發了鐽震案，未來還是可能白忙一場。
其次，李天羽倉卒的下台，儘管 官方說法是要為鐽震公司處理不當負起政治責任，但任誰都知道這當然不是真正的理由。目前較流行說法，一是府方主動「暗示」李天羽辭職，二是李天羽自知情況 不妙，選擇提前跳傘，以免未來釀成弊案難以脫身。真正的內幕或許短期內不易澄清，但不論上述說法中的那一種，內情都不單純。如果李天羽是被「暗示」要下台 的，顯然是認為他「挺鐽震不力」，甚至是「配合度不高」；如果是後者，那也意味李天羽深知這其中包含了龐大的「利益」，也包含了龐大的「爭議」，再不切割 遲早引火上身，淪為代罪羊。如果在軍系中一向被視為扁嫡系的李天羽都免不了出局，成為民進黨執政期間任期最短的國防部長，如何不令人好奇，這背後究竟存著 什麼不可告人的糾葛？
再其次，也是鐽震案從頭到尾最耐人尋味，也最不曾交代的一個環節，即為什麼這一切是由新潮流的「雙仁」在主導？不論 是隱身幕後的邱義仁，或是檯面上掛名主導鐽震公司的吳乃仁，過往從政經歷與專業都不曾涉及軍火採購，更何況他們兩人在黨政部門的身分與角色都未褪盡，還都 剛好隸屬同一特定派系，怎麼敢就這麼明目張膽地成立公司，強行介入跨國的軍火交易，甚至趕在看守政府階段，就暗中洽談重要軍火採購，而且擺明的要逃避國會 監督，這中間要說全無「私利」考量，恐怕是違反所有人的常識吧！耐人尋味的是李天羽下台後，接任部長的蔡明憲，偏偏又是新潮流出身，或許只是巧合，但給外 界的觀感，好似是移開石頭，交由「自己人」操盤一樣。如此要說鐽震疑雲已經落幕，恐怕很難令人釋疑。
沒有人否認，在中共的封鎖與打壓之 下，台灣對外的軍火採購確實困難重重，而為了維繫最起碼的國防安全需求，在手段上採取各種靈活變通，大家都會支持。但軍火採購畢竟是動輒涉及天價的交易， 再微薄的折扣比例，都是驚人的數額，沒有制度化的內控與外控監督機制，很可能就淪為貪汙與弊案滋生的溫床，「尹清楓案」的記憶猶新，國民黨執政時期的若干 軍事採購弊案，至今都還是該黨甩不掉的包袱，這一點民進黨應該看得很清楚，如果鐽震案的後續再要處理不當，很可能也將淪為民進黨揮之不去的包袱之一。