DPP, Leave Taiwan's Democracy Some Shred of Dignity
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 23, 2013
Summary: Su Tseng-chang is Party Chairman to the largest opposition party, at one
time the ruling party. Democracy demands responsibility. All are equal
before the law, Blue and Green alike. All that matters is right and
wrong. The conflict began when the DPP unconditionally threw its support
behind Ah-Bian. The public's tolerance of Democratic Progressive Party
shennanigans has limits. Chen Shui-bian as a former head of state,
should cling to some shred of dignity. For the sake of the Democratic
Progressive Party and the ROC's democracy, it is time to ring the
curtain down on this farce.
Full text below:
Former President Chen Shui-bian has been transferred to the Taichung Prison's Pei-de Hospital. Lo and behold, this has provided Chen supporters with yet another pretext for shrill protests. DPP legislator Chiu Yi-ying, a Chen Shui-bian supporter, even kicked down the door to the Minister of Justice's office. As a result, she has been summoned before the court. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang criticized the Ministry of Justice's action. He said it was an unwise move toward direct conflict. Chiu herself argues that she was merely exercising her authority as a legislator.
Chen Shui-bian is a former head of state. Just how should the government deal with his crime? The dispute has dragged on for years without end. But the duties of a legislator do not include the destruction of public property. Of this there can be no doubt. Both Chiu and the DPP must understand this. Otherwise, support for Chen Shui-bian will merely harm their own party. The price will be too high.
Chen Shui-bian has been serving time. His sentence has become a topic of conversation. He was being diagnosed and treated at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. The slightest physical discomfort, was given a definite political spin. Chen's physical and mental condition is not good. But it does not call for medical parole. As for justice and humanity, there are clear boundaries. One. The president cannot intervene in the case. Everything must be conducted in accordance with the law. Two. Chen has been indicted in 10 cases. Judgements have been rendered in only six of them. Three are still being prosecuted. The prosecutors have yet to complete their investigation. Prior to the conclusion of the judicial process, it is too soon to talk of pardon or parole. Three. Chen Shui-bian is currently a serving out a sentence. He is not merely being detained while under investigation. This is not a "human rights" issue. Four. Chen is a former head of state. His incarceration is unprecedented. The law makes no special provisions for this. But many see a need to provide him with some degree of special treatment. Taipei Prison gave him separate quarters, and security arrangements during his medical treatment. The Taipei Prison did everything in its power to accomodate him. Chen does not qualify for medical parole. He has been transferred to Pei-de Hospital where he luxuriates in 30 square meters of private quarters, and 330 square meters of garden. This sort of VIP treatment is not accorded any other inmate.
Former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Shih Ming-teh served 25 years as a political prisoner. He said it best. One. Everyone in prison feels pain. Take any one hundred inmates. One can be sure that every last one of them suffers from chronic depression. What must be improved is the medical care accorded prisoners. Years ago Huang Jen-chung was imprisoned because he was in behind in his tax payments. Even though Huang was afflicted with chronic illnesses, he was not allowed to bring any medicine into prison. As a result he died a premature death. Who protests the injustice visited upon Huang Jen-chung? Two. When Chen was inaugurated president, he swore an oath. "I will abide by the Constitution, fulfill the duties of my office, enhance the public welfare, defend the nation. and live up to my oath of office. If I violate my oath, I am willing to accept severe punishment by the state." Chen embezzled money from the nation's coffers. How dare he demand special privileges? Never mind that he does not feel the slightest remorse.
Three. Most importantly, Chen Shui-bian faces a sort of prisoner's dilemma. As Shih Ming-teh noted, "The key to Chen Shui-bian' release is not in the hands of Ma Ying-jeou, or in the mouth of Chen fanatics, but in the heart of Chen Shui-bian." Chen Shui-bian must awaken, repent, acknowledge the error of his ways, and return his ill-gotten gains to the people of the nation. Only then can the doors to his prison, real and spiritual, be thrown open and Chen freed. Unfortunately Chen Shui-bian, who once served eight years as the symbol of the nation, completely fails to understand this. He obstinately refuses to admit that he did anything wrong.
Chen Shui-bian refuses to admit guilt. So be it. But the Democratic Progressive Party lost power as a result of Chen's crimes. Yet most party members ignore this. Shih Ming-teh sigh called on Chen Shui-bian to do the right thing. "As a former president, please try to retain some shred of dignity." This was also a plea to the DPP members and officials who still support Ah-Bian. Since Chen entered prison, he has staged one farce after another. Most of them were his own productions, under his own direction. They include disinformation campaigns about him being at death's door, and disinformation campaigns about him being suicidal. They forget that Chen's spin-doctoring, which showed himself stammering, exhibiting signs of dementia, and undergoing degeneration, undermines the dignity of this former head of state. The Democratic Progressive Party has been out of power for over five years. It remains under the "Curse of Chen Shui-bian." How can an opposition party unable to rid itself of the taint of corruption, ever return to power?
Many have expressed solidarity with Ah-Bian. Most agree that a former head of state should be accorded some degree of respect. They may be offended, but they remain tolerant. But their tolerance has limits. Chiu Yi-ying kicked down the door to the Minister of Justice's office. Meanwhile, the DPP maintains a facade of rationality and moderation. Legislators must provide oversight of the government. But that oversight is exercised through the legislative process. Since Chen's detention and imprisonment, DPP officials have not let a day go by without challenges in the legislature. They have obstructed legislature business. They have issued statements both rational and irrational. Chen supporters have protested endlessly outside Taipei Prison, Veterans General Hospital, and Pei-de Hospital. This are all actions that members of a democratic society may not approve of, but must tolerate. Green Camp legislators may gather around the Ministry of Justice. Let them. But they may not kick down the door to the Minister of Justice's office. Shih Ming-teh set the proper example. When he led the Red Shirts onto Ketegelan Boulevard to protest a corrupt president, many encouraged him to burst into the Office of the President. He held back. Chiu Yi-ying may feel aggrieved. But another former legislator, Chou Yi, crashed the gate to the Kaohsiung Court House. He was later prosecuted and served time.
Su Tseng-chang is Party Chairman to the largest opposition party, at one time the ruling party. Democracy demands responsibility. All are equal before the law, Blue and Green alike. All that matters is right and wrong. The conflict began when the DPP unconditionally threw its support behind Ah-Bian. The public's tolerance of Democratic Progressive Party shennanigans has limits. Chen Shui-bian as a former head of state, should cling to some shred of dignity. For the sake of the Democratic Progressive Party and the ROC's democracy, it is time to ring the curtain down on this farce.