TaiMed Corruption Scandal: Case Closed but Questions Remain
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 15, 2012
Summary: The TaiMed case may be closed. But such corruption must not be allowed to happen
in the future. Never again may a Vice Premier Tsai be allowed to give a
government grant to a Chairman Tsai. Perhaps the Special Investigation
Unit "found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing." But the people cannot
tolerate such ethical violations in the future. Tsai Ing-wen must be the first, last, and only vice premier ever to get away with such behavior. Never again.
Full Text below:
The Special Investigation Unit announced yesterday that it was closing the books on the TaiMed corruption scandal. It said it failed to find any criminal wrongdoing. This concludes the criminal proceedings. That is something we must accept. But the case remains clouded by suspicion. That is not something that simply closing the case can resolve.
The key question in the TaiMed corruption scandal is "Did Vice Premier Tsai give a government grant to Chairman Tsai?" The Special Investigation Unit report says no. But the facts are glaringly obvious. Vice Premier Tsai, who personally approved the government grant to TaiMed, is the same Tsai Ing-wen who became Chairman Tsai of TaiMed upon leaving office. The legal ruling clearly contradicts what the public sees with its own eyes and hears with its own ears.
This case may be legally closed. But people are asking questions. They are wondering whether a future Vice Premier will be able to personally approve a government grant to a company while in office, then assume the chairmanship of that company upon leaving office, without fear of prosecution for corruption. The prosecutors concluded that no crimes were committed. But the public feels utterly betrayed. They assumed that government officials would conduct themselves ethically, and that anti-corruption laws would ensure that they did.
The Special Investigative Unit helped Tsai Ing-wen by providing her with lawyerly evasions. As "evidence," it argued that Tsai Ing-wen decided to invest in TaiMed in August, 2007. It argued that the Biotech and New Pharmaceutical Development Act was promulgated on July 4, 2007. It argued that "between the two there was a definite interval." In other words, the Special Investigation Unit argued that Tsai Ing-wen became part of TaiMed one month after the implementation of the new drug regulations. Therefore Tsai Ing-wen's role as Vice Premier Tsai has no relationship to Tsai Ing-wen's role as Chairman Tsai. This might be "legal," but it also defies common sense.
Let us rewind. Assume Vice Premier Tsai had no plans to join TaiMed when she was still in office. But Tsai Ing-wen decided to assume the chairmanship of TaiMed. Did she really not know that the Yu Chang Company, whose government grants she personally approved, was also known as TaiMed? Did she really not know that ethics required her to recuse herself? This is why the legal case may be closed, but the moral and ethical case is not. The people expected more from the prosecution, and were right to expect more. Tsai Ing-wen now has a black mark on her character. The public quite naturally considers her character suspect.
This case is rife with evidence of prosecutorial discretion. For example, the Special Investigation Unit argued that Tsai family capital was private capital. It argued that scheduled payments were deposited into designated investment accounts. It argued that there was no "pocketing of funds" or other illegal activity. But TaiMed was never about the misappropriation of public funds. The raison d'etre of TaiMed, from beginning to end, was to gain control of the biotech industry. Did the Special Investigation Unit deliberately bark up the wrong tree? Did it deliberately limit the scope of its investigation? The people have deep suspicions that will not easily be allayed.
Besides, just because the Tsai family did not line its pockets, does not mean that cabinet officials did not abuse their power or engage in patronage. For example, in February 2007, Ho Mei-yueh had yet to become Chairman of the National Development Fund. As a minister without portfolio, she sent a letter to the Executive Yuan, urging the National Development Fund to invest 20 million USD in TaiMed. TaiMed had not been formally established. Yet she was already recommending a subsidy. A political appointee behaved in such a manner. Even assuming she was not deliberately covering up or engaging in patronage, was this not an abuse of power? These questions have yet to be answered in the Control Yuan's investigation.
Fortunately for Tsai, a change in ruling parties soon followed. The National Development Fund was alerted to the subsidies and called a halt to them in a timely manner. It refrained from making any large investments. Tsai Ing-wen unexpectedly became DPP chairman. She was forced to resign as Chairman of TaiMed. She urged her family to sell their shares of TaiMed, at a profit. Otherwise the Special Investigation Unit might not have been able to prosecute her case in such a cavalier fashion and conclude that "no laws were broken."
Last December, during the general election, the Special Investigation Unit launched an investigation "to preserve the relevant evidence." Clearly it was not bound by political considerations. For this it should be acknowledged. But it delayed issuing summons to Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang until July this year. It also did nothing to prevent collusion between potential suspects. It soon became clear the case would go nowhere. It really had no intention of prosecuting the case. People acknowledge the Special Investigation Unit for closing the case. But they question the "prosecutorial discretion" exercised in the handling of the case.
The case may be closed. But such corruption must not be allowed to happen in the future. Never again may a Vice Premier Tsai be allowed to give a government grant to a Chairman Tsai. Perhaps the Special Investigation Unit "found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing." But the people cannot tolerate such ethical violations in the future.
Tsai Ing-wen must be the first, last, and only vice premier ever to get away with such behavior. Never again.
2012.08.15 02:15 am