Allegations of Secret Meetings with Triad Boss are Defamatory
China Post editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 23, 2011
Summary: President Ma Ying-jeou has officially filed a defamation suit against the DPP, for alleging that he "secretly met with a triad boss." DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen is a co-defendant. Therefore this is the first time in our nation's history that a sitting president and incumbent has ever sued his challenger. This is unprecedented. A court battle will become part of the presidential race.
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President Ma Ying-jeou has officially filed a defamation suit against the DPP, for alleging that he "secretly met with a triad boss." DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen is a co-defendant. Therefore this is the first time in our nation's history that a sitting president and incumbent has ever sued his challenger. This is unprecedented. A court battle will become part of the presidential race.
A few days ago one particular news organization alleged that President Ma Ying-jeou secretly met with "underworld gambling boss Chen Ying-chu on September 10 of this year. Ma was allegedly introduced to Chen by Chiayi Mayor Huang Ming-hui, and sought Chen's financial and organizational support. Chen allegedly helped Ma during the previous presidential election, by contributing over 100 million dollars to his campaign. In 2008, the first time Ma ran for president, he allegedly met with Chen three times to seek his support. President Ma's close friend King Pu-tsung allegedly met with Chen during the 2009 County Chiefs and City Mayors Elections.
Ever since President Ma took up politics, he has been known for his integrity. Many of his policies have been targets of criticism. But at least the public acknowledges his integrity and believes in his honesty. Ma's predecessor Chen Shui-bian was corrupt through and through. By contrast, Ma Ying-jeou's integrity is his most important political asset. It is also something voters consider when chosing whom to support. That is the reason these allegations have so much shock value. If true, they would destroy Ma Ying-jeou's long-standing reputation for honest. They would dethrone the Blue Camp. They would dramatically affect the outcome of the election.
This report has of course become ammunition in the Green Camp's barrages against Ma. One Green Camp legislator after another has blasted Ma Ying-jeou for allegedly meeting with a triad boss just prior to the election. They have accused him of attempting to affect the outcome of the election by manipulating the betting odds. DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen demanded that Ma come forward and clear up the situation. DPP spokesman Liang Wen-chieh claimed that reliable sources say Ma met Chen in Chiayi this September, and accepted 300 million dollars in campaign contributions.
Presidential spokesman Fan Chiang-tai promptly denied the allegations. He produced Ma's itineary for September 10, showing every place Ma visited. He made it abundantly clear that Ma did not meet with Chen that day. He made it clear that President Ma did indeed meet Chen twice in the past. The first time was in January 2008. The second time was in August 2009, just before the County Chiefs and City Mayors Elections. Both times the president met with local campaign contributors. All of President Ma's campaign contributions were handled strictly according to the law.
The DPP then accused President Ma of meeting Chen in September 2009. On the day that Ma allegedly met Chen, Ma went south to help with the 8/8 Typhoon. President Ma allegedly visited the disaster site and secretly met with a triad boss. The point is that President Ma did not meet with Chen on September 10 this year. He did not seek campaign funds or organizational support from Chen. The Presidential Office said that the two men did not meet on September 10 this year. If true, the allegations are totally baseless. The DPP also accused King Pu-tsung of meeting with Chen Ying-chu. But King was visiting the United States at the time. Neither the media nor politicians may make false accusations. They must be able to present conclusive evidence.
To rebut allegations that he secretly met with a triad boss, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou filed the lawsuit in his own name. He filed a civil suit against the DPP, and DPP spokesman Liang Wen-chieh. As the legal representative of the Democratic Progressive Party, Chairman Tsai Ing-wen was named co-defendant. Others mentioned by the news organization include Huang Ming-hui and Chen Ying-chu. Each has filed his own lawsuit.
Frankly, Ma Ying-jeou is the president of our nation. If he sues a presidential challenger and party chairman during an election, his opponents are likely to accuse him of "political persecution." They are likely to dredge up historical grievances to unite their supporters and mobilize voters. The legal process may be subject to lengthy delays. The lawsuit could become a major factor that affects public sentiment and determines the election outcome. In an atmosphere of intense confrontation. the final verdict is unlikely to convince non-believers. A trial is unlikely to uncover the truth.
On the other hand, President Ma clearly has the legal right to defend his reputation. He was willing to file the lawsuit in his own name. This suggests that he sincerely believes his good name will be cleared. In a war of words, a good offense is often the best defense. Even though the final verdict may not be rendered in time to clear the air, the grand gesture represents a solemn declaration of innocence.
The election campaign has heated up. The poll numbers are close. Neither side can afford to slip up. James Soong has entered the race. Ma Ying-jeou now has an enemy at his back as well. His situation is even more dangerous. That is why he cannot permit allegations about "a secret meeting with a triad boss" to run amok.
Ma is also party chairman. He must campaign at the grass-roots, on behalf of the party's candidates. Paying visits to local leaders is something presidents Blue and Green have always done. It was true for Lee Teng-hui. It was true for Chen Shui-bian. The Democratic Progressive Party must first explain what it did for eight years. It can begin with President Chen Shui-bian and two term Premir Yu Shyi-kun. Why did Frank Hsieh secretly meet with Chen Ying-chu, the very same "black gold triad boss" the DPP accused Ma Ying-jeou of meeting?
Election season is a time of dog eat dog. One cannot expect the legal system to clear up a political dispute. It is usually impossible. But a lie told often enough becomes the truth. Failure to sue could be construed as an admission of guilt. Taiwan's political climate allows demagogues to get away with baseless smears. That is one reason the political climate on Taiwan has progressed so little.
The DPP has resorted to lies and deception. Therefore filing a lawsuit against the DPP is the KMT's last means of defense. The allegation that "The president secretly met with a triad boss, and took part in black gold dealings" has impugned not just Ma Ying-jeou as an individual, but the morality, ethics, integrity, and good name of the leader of our nation. Can we allow demagogues to sling muck, without saying anything? The campaign will surely heat up. Candidates will be subject to close scrutiny. That does not mean we can fabricate lies to discredit our political opponents. Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP are seeking high office. A word to the wise. Voters will not tolerate a political party that fabricates lies to reacquire power.