Su Jia-chyuan's Plight:
The Consequence of His Corruption in Pingtung County
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 17, 2011
Summary: The DPP boasts of its contribution to Taiwan's democracy. But whenever it runs into trouble with the law, it immediately adopts an entirely different set of standards. It pretends that democracy does not require the rule of law. In recent months people have gotten a good look at the Su Jia-chyuan family. They have gotten a good look at the violations of law and abuses of power the Su family committed in Pingtung. The Su family's brazenness is mind-boggling. Yet the Pingtung County Government did nothing. For years, it covered up Su family crimes. To the Pingtung County Government, the rule of law and public authority are meaningless. This is merely the most obvious example.
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The DPP boasts of its contribution to Taiwan's democracy. But whenever it runs into trouble with the law, it immediately adopts an entirely different set of standards. It pretends that democracy does not require the rule of law. In recent months people have gotten a good look at the Su Jia-chyuan family. They have gotten a good look at the violations of law and abuses of power the Su family committed in Pingtung. The Su family's brazenness was mind-boggling. Yet the Pingtung County Government did nothing. For years, it covered up Su family crimes. To the Pingtung County Government, the rule of law and public authority are meaningless. This is merely the most obvious example.
The Su Jia-chyuan luxury farmhouse scandal has been in the news for over a month. During this period, Pingtung County officials vigorously defended Su Jia-chyuan. They ignored outside doubts and official Council of Agriculture case files, They stonewalled, hoping the problem would go away. The most absurd development occurred when outsiders learned that the Su family had constructed an illegal metal shed in Pingtung City. The Su family hired workers and had it demolished it, virtually overnight. The Su family has been under investigation for tax evasion for years. When the National Tax Administration Bureau Chief in Pingtung City heard what the Su family had done, he laughed aloud and said: "If the crime scene has been demolished, and the previous tenant cannot be found, we can hardly prosecute." Bureaucrats are contemptible. But are there any bureaucrats more contemptible than this?
This metal shed in the downtown area was constructed by Su Jia-chyuan when he first became Pingtung County Chief. Over the past ten years or so, it has shown up sporadically on Control Yuan property declaration records. Not only was it constructed in Pingtung City, it was rented out to incense sellers. The Pingtung County Government watched as this metal shed repeatedly underwent changes. It repeatedly turned a blind eye. Where was the law? Neighbors knew this shop was being leased to others by Su's wife, Hung Heng-chu. Recently the media has published graphic details explaining the ins and outs of the case. Yet National Tax Administration officials lied through their teeth. They said "no crime scene, no prosecution." Are the officials who wield public authority merely asleep at the wheel? Or are they involved in some sort of quid pro quo?
Pingtung City officials say no one in the past ever reported the metal shed. Therefore they never checked the records. But do building officials act only when someone reports illegal construction? Aren't building officials expected to use their own initiative? Besides, Su Jia-chyuan's luxury farmhouse was reported repeatedly by members of the public over the years. But the Pingtung County Government merely issued fines and went through the motions. For years it helped him cover up his illegal behavior. It never urged him to do the right thing. County Chief Tsao Chi-hung lashed back at the COA. Had he devoted his time and energy to enforcing the law, the farmhouse would not be the focus of current public attention. It would not have become a sore spot for the DPP and for Su Jia-chyuan.
Back then Wu Tse-yuan and Cheng Tai-chi, working together, changed Pingtung. People referred to Pingtung as a "county ruled by gangsters." When Su Jia-chyuan took office, he put on an impressive show about cleaning up Pingtung County and ridding it of its stigma. As a result, Tsai Ying-wen and Su Jia-chyuan, two members of the political elite from Pingtung, eventually joined hands in their quest for higher office. They demonstrated their southern Taiwan charisma. Who knew it would lead to today's scenario? Su Jia-chyuan's corrupt rule in Pingtung involved not merely illegal conduct and material greed. It involved the abuse of power and the bullying of the weak. Pingtung was once a "county ruled by gangsters." It has now become a "county ruled by tyrants." Does the DPP still care to explain how much progress democracy has made under DPP rule?
People speak of Taiwan's "North-South gap." Su Jia-chyuan's example shows people how little the rule of law means in Pingtung. It is something people in the north cannot imagine. Just imagine. A private cemetery could be built on public land, Public grazing land could be paved with concrete and rented out as night market stalls. The stalls could be hooked up to electrical power restricted for agricultural use. A metal shed could be constructed on urban land. The owner could flagrantly evade property taxes. Compared to this, a luxury mansion built on agricultural land is probably nothing to the Pingtung County Government. The officials exploiting these gray areas include former Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Agriculture officials who were members of the cabinet. Who would dare to defy these members of the nomenklatura? Su Jia-chyuan felt he had nothing to fear during the current scandal. The main reason was that these violations of the law were raised previously, but the scandal had already blown over. Su assumed he was "home safe." He miscalculated. This time he was a vice presidential candidate, subject to scrutiny under national standards, and not just Pingtung standards. This was another kind of North-South gap.
For years Pingtung has served as an important base for the Green Camp. The entire nation has been been given the chance to see what the Green Camp has been doing there. This is refreshing indeed. The Su Jia-chyuan scandal has stunned the public. It has allowed them to see another side of Pingtung. It has allowed them to see widespread political favoritism and indifference toward the rule of law. Pingtung is a major agricultural county. Its officials sat back and watched the wanton destruction of its farmland, water, and soil. Major flooding in recent years probably bears a relation to this.
Lest we forget, Su Jia-chyuan may have dismantled his metal shed, but his luxury mansion still stands. Will the Pingtung County Government classify the kumquat seedlings planted by Su Jia-chyuan family workers as "agricultural crops," and legalize his luxury mansion with the stroke of a pen?