Why Society Has No Reason to Forgive the Chen Family
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 11, 2009
Wu Shu-chen presented her case in court yesterday. She probably thought she discovered a legal loophole. But her legal arguments were unconvincing, to say the least, and are unlikely to be corroborated by the main witnesses or by the material evidence. Wu Shu-chen says she wants to "save her husband and protect her son." She is unlikely to get her wish.
Wu Shu-chen has admitted she accepted money in the State Affairs Fund Case, the Lungtan case, and the Nankang case. The fact that she took money has already established the legal framework for these cases. Was the money bribes or political contributions? That is not for Wu Shu-chen to say. Was the money connected to Chen Shui-bian? That is not for Wu Shu-chen to say either. The judge's evaluation of the evidence will not be based on Wu Shu-chen's unilateral assertions.
Reading from her notes, Wu Shu-chen revealed how she intended to disassociate herself from these four cases. She pleaded guilty only in the Nankang Case. She admitted accepting 2.2 million USD. She also admitted laundering money using Wu Ching-mao's overseas bank account. Chen Shui-bian was not a defendant in the Nankang Case. That is why Wu Shu-chen was willing to plead guilty in that case. Wu Shu-chen's guilty plea in the Nankang Case is merely a legal ploy to help Chen Chih-chung in his plea bargain. The Nankang Case is Wu Shu-chen's legal loophole. Wu Shu-chen did not plead guilty in any of the other cases involving Chen Shui-bian, at least not completely.
In the State Affairs Fund Case Wu Shu-chen admitted forging documents, but refused to confess to embezzlement. Again the main reason was that if she were to confess to embezzlement, that would make Chen Shui-bian an accomplice. Wu Shu-chen testified that Ma Yung-cheng and others instructed her to use false receipts for reimbursement. She said she complied without understanding what she was doing. She said that after she received the money from Chen Cheng-hui, she transferred it to Chen Shui-bian. Chen referred to the money as funds for "secret diplomacy." One. Wu's defense is that Ma Yung-cheng told her what to do. But that doesn't help her, because Ma Yung-cheng's defense is that Chen Shui-bian told what to do. Two. If the funds were meant for "secret diplomacy," why didn't they deposit them directly into the Office of the President's operating expenses account? Why go through Ah-Chen? Three. Chen Cheng-hui carried millions of dollars in State Affairs Funds at the end of each year to the president's official residence and turned it over to Ah-Chen. Ah-Chen said the money had already been transferred to Ah-Bian. Was Ah-Bian truly unaware that these millions of dollars in cash were obtained by means of false invoices? Such statements defy common sense. Wu Shu-chen has confessed to pocketing State Affairs Fund money. Whether she is guilty of fraud or embezzlement will be decided by a judge, not by Wu Shu-chen.
In the Lungtan Case, Wu Shu-chen's reasoning is even more convoluted. According to her testimony, she had no idea why Leslie Koo gave her so much money. She said Tsai Ming-Jer told her CITIC was bullying Leslie Koo. And because Leslie Koo wanted to "remain on good terms" with the president, he made her a gift of money. If Ah-Chen's testimony is to be believed, then Li Jie-mu never visited the president's official residence to discuss a land deal with the First Couple, face to face. Then Wu Shu-chen never paid a visit to Lungtan to look at the site. And of course President Chen Shui-bian never summoned the Premier and other officials to his official residence to receive direct instructions. But Chen Shui-bian has already admitted to summoning the Premier and other officials, and to discussing a land deal, face to face. He has merely argued that he did not "issue orders," but merely "made suggestions." They were not part of his official responsibilities. Wu Shu-chen says "I have no idea why Leslie Koo gave me money." She expects the public to believe kickbacks from the land deal were campaign contributions having nothing to with Chen Shui-bian. To expect such arguments to convince anyone is wishful thinking.
Since the money-laundering case exploded on August 14 last year, the Chen family's legal strategy was to deny, deny, deny. Chen did not hesitate to tear society apart, to hijack the Democratic Progressive Party, to defame the justice system. Chen resorted to the most vicious and underhanded means at his disposal. But once the trial began, Chen Chih-chung and his wife asked for a plea bargain. Wu Shu-chen attempted to use the Nankang Case to save her husband and protect her son. She deigned to offer the public an apology. Superificially, they changed their both their attitude and their tactics. In short, their confessions are utterly hollow and insincere. They are engaging in legalistic sleight of hand, and taking the public for fools.
Wu Shu-chen's testimony yesterday was riddled with contradictions. The justice system and society have no reason to forgive the Chen family. If this is Wu Shu-chen's defense strategy, she will have a hard time convincing the judge. If she hopes to save her husband, this will hardly do the trick. If she wants to protect her son, she has offered nothing the Special Investigation Unit doesn't already know. What incentive does it have to negotiate with her? She has rolled the dice and come up snake eyes. This, perhaps, fortells the Chen family's fate.
2009.02.11 04:21 am