Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In the Name of Reform: Chen Shui-bian and Lin Chuan's Moral Calculus

In the Name of Reform: Chen Shui-bian and Lin Chuan's Moral Calculus
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 13, 2009

The Executive Yuan's review of the ""Second Financial Reform Program"" scandal has been released. It identifies Chen Shui-bian, and his high-handed behavior, as the culprit. His behavior caused agencies within the Executive Yuan to take "hasty and ill-considered" actions. Actually, reading the Executive Yuan's report was unnecessary. This was already common knowledge. The Executive Yuan forsook its responsibilities because the president intervened. It gave free rein to collusion between the government and businessmen. That is what most requires soul-searching.

The "Second Financial Reform" scam was perpetrated on Minister of Finance Lin Chuan's watch. He is undoubtedly the most closely watched player in this unfolding drama. Lin Chuan was well respected within academia. During his tenure in the Chen Shui-bian administration, he ostensibly did his best to remain clean. Reports are he considered the Chen family's demands intolerable, and eventually considered resigning. But from another perspective, perhaps Lin's clean reputation provided Ah-Bian with a credible looking cover for his phony reform program.

The Special Investigation Group was just about to question Lin Chuan, Chen Shu, and others, when Lin Chuan publicly admitted that Chen Shui-bian approached him regarding at least two official appointments. The first time Ah-Bian wanted Lin Chuan to make Diana Chen Chairman of Grand Cathay Securities. Lin allowed her only to serve as Chairman of the 101 Tower. The other time Ah-Bian wanted Lin Chuan to make Nice Group Vice President Chen Ching-jen Director of Development for Kim Min Shares. Lin agreed only to make him Director of Public Shares.

Lin has underscored how he courageously "resisted" Chen Shui-bian's directives. But Lin's statement can be read a different way. First, Chen Shui-bian directly ordered financial institutions to "merge within a specified time, and reduce their numbers below a specified limit." He even became involved in the detailed implementation. Secondly, Chen Shui-bian accepted bribes from financial consortiums. He even collected "broker's fees" for placing certain people in certain positions. Third, Lin Chuan's "resistance" against Chen Shui-bian was half-hearted. It was a "soft response." He may not have complied fully with Ah-Bian's directives. But Diana Chen and Chen Chin-juen's appointments met most of Chen Shui-bian's demands.

When the ""Second Financial Reform" scam was being promoted, the FSC had yet to be established. Everyone knew this was the Ministry of Finance's purvue. The public repeatedly criticized the "merge within a specified time, and reduce their numbers below a specified limit" provision as unreasonable. The Executive Yuan utterly disregarded right and wrong, professionally and constitutionally. Instead it allowed itself to be ordered about by Chen Shui-bian. Lin Chuan may have passively resisted in response to some of Ah-Bian's demands. Lin Chuan did not leave behind much evidence by which he could be prosecuted. But he watched idly as financial consortiums came and went through the back door, and made rigged acquisitions. Can Lin Chuan really sleep knowing he facilitated such "financial reforms?"

The "Second Financial Reform" scam was made possible precisely because Lin Chuan was on board. That is why the public feels even more deeply betrayed. Had the finance minister been a third rate bureaucrat, public skepticism might have laid bare the lie of Chen Shui-bian's "reform." The DPP might not have played along with it. A bad policy might have been stil-born. Chen Shui-bian might not have fallen to the level he has today. Chen Shui-bian used Lin Chuan's reputation to whitewash his "reform" package, to cover up his ugly greed. The result was the pillaging of national wealth, the betrayal of reforms, and an absence of accountability. Lin Chuan insists he strongly resisted Ah-Bian's wishes. But the outcome tells a different story. Lin cannot whitewash his abetting of Chen Shui-bian's perversions of justice.

The "Second Financial Reform" scam would become the root of the president's corruption and dereliction of duty. It represented the gross abuse of power by a populist president, and an ROC constitutional crisis. This is something the ruling and opposition parties must contemplate. Lin Chuan, an official who supposedly cherished his reputation, watched passively as Ah-Bian enriched himself from the public coffers in the name of "reform." Let this disabuse the public about the myth of the "good official" with a reassuring "positive image." Let us get back to basics. Let us talk turkey. Only then can we avoid being deceived.

Have we already forgotten Lee Yuan-tse's "upward progress," which led to eight years of "precipitous decline?" He has yet to offer an apology. Have we forgotten Huang Fang-yen's vigorous support of Chen Shui-bian? He promised to look after the Chen family until his death. Yet now he has flown, far from the coop. These men were once the public's hope. They may not have intended to deceive the public. But they unwittingly found themselves trapped within Ah-Bian's web of lies, and were unable to extricate themselves. We must remain clear-eyed. We must see through the smokescreen of political charisma rooted in political power. Only then can we avoid being deceived.

Look at the "Second Financial Reform" scam. People have arrived at their own conclusions about Chen Shui-bian and Lin Chuan. But what's harder to predict is what will happen when such people are put together in a volatile mix.

2009.01.13 02:04 am


探 討這項問題,在二次金改期間擔任財長的林全,無疑是最受矚目的關鍵角色。林全過去在學界風評不錯,任職扁政府期間也頗惜羽毛,甚至傳出他最後是無法忍受扁 家之需索,終而掛冠求去。但換一個角度看,或許正因為林全的形象如此,反而使阿扁可藉其招牌之「掩護」上下其手,假改革之名欺瞞社會。


林 全的聲明,雖旨在強調他如何「抗拒」陳水扁的指令,但人們卻可以讀出不同的訊息:一,陳水扁不僅直接下令金融機構「限時限量」併購,甚至介入各項執行細 節;二,陳水扁除收受金控財團的購併賄款,他也可能在安插個別人事上索取不同額度的「仲介費」。三,林全對陳水扁的抗拒,其實只算半迎半拒的「軟因應」。 他雖未完全遵照扁的指令行事,但以陳敏薰、陳鏡仁的安排,卻也都執行了七、八分,變相滿足了陳水扁的要求。

二次金改推動時,金管會尚未成 立,誰都知道此事是財政部的職掌。當時輿論一再批評「限時限量」政策不當,整個行政部門卻不顧專業是非及憲政分際,甘願受阿扁驅遣。就算林全對扁的若干要 求作了「消極抵抗」,在官樣的行政作業上也未留下太多把柄,但眼看財團走後門輸送賄賂,最後完成了不公不義的購併;林全對自己手中完成這樣的「金融改 革」,會覺得心安嗎?

也正因為是林全,二次金改落得如此下場,才更讓人扼腕。如果當時的財長是一個風評不佳的官僚,外界一質疑,陳水扁的 改革謊言可能很快被戳破,民進黨也不會為之護航包庇,惡政即可能胎死腹中,阿扁也不致落至今天的下場。然而,由於阿扁借了林全的頭面來掛牌,美化了「改 革」的包裝,遮蓋了自己醜陋的私欲,才使得國家資源和改革正義橫遭竊取,而追究莫及。林全雖自謂曾極力抗拒扁意,但從結局看,他無法撇清自己的消極放任導 致了陳水扁的倒行逆施。

二次金改淪為總統貪汙瀆職的淵藪,一方面是民粹總統濫權的結果,反映了台灣的憲政空窗危機,這有待朝野嚴肅檢討。 從另一方面看,林全作為一個珍惜羽毛的官員,卻變成扁藉改革之名行斂財之實的袖手旁觀者,也提醒台灣人民要打破「好官」、「形象牌」的迷思;只有回到事實 原點就事論事,談論國政才不會產生「人的錯覺」。

若不健忘,李遠哲登高號召「向上提升」,卻導致八年的「向下沉淪」,他至今猶未道歉。再 看黃芳彥力挺扁珍,自稱會照顧其一家至死,忽而卻遠走海外。他們原皆有些民間清望,也未必有意欺世盜名,卻在不知不覺中困陷於扁的權力巨網和虛妄神話,而 難以自拔。人民必須有清澈之眼,看穿政治名望與權位相生相長的混沌,才不致為表相迷惑。


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