Wang Jin-pyng and Chen Shui-bian:
Similarities and Differences
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
September 13, 2013
Summary: The Wang case is a major case. Oversights regarding the details are certain to occur. But if a Speaker of the Legislative Yuan peddles influence, he must be removed from office. There is no room for dithering. The handling of the Wang case has reached a certain stage. But as in the Chen case, the truly adverse consequences concerned the inversion of right and wrong among the public. This incident coming to light has revealed the ugly undersides of both the KMT and the DPP.
Full text below:
The Chen Shui-bian corruption case and the Wang Jin-pyng Chen influence peddling case are different. But they are similar in certain respects. Neither of the two men were willing to admit to their crimes. Both chose to hijack the political system and incite social divisions in order to escape justice. Both men forced the public to wage fierce debates over political justice. The two cases left an impact on society, not because of the cases themselves, but because they inverted right and wrong among the public.
Before we tackle this issue, an explanation is in order. The facts in the Chen Shui-bian corruption case and the Wang Jin-pyng judicial influence peddling case are crystal clear. This newspaper has reported in depth on the evidence in the two cases before. Therefore we will not repeat ourselves here.
A corrupt president must be prosecuted. A speaker of the legislature who peddles influence forfeits his right to remain in office. Some think that a corrupt president need not be prosecuted. Or they think Chen Shui-bian was not guilty of corruption. Some think that a speaker of the legislature who peddles influence may remain in office. Or they think that Wang Jin-pyng was not guilty of influence peddling. That is not what we think.
The Wang and Chen cases differ in their seriousness. But they are similar in certain respects. Both deny wrongdoing. Wang denies engaging in influence peddling. Chen denies engaging in corruption. In other words, Chen has not argued that "I may have embezzled funds, but I should nevertheless not be prosecuted." Chen argued that the funds were "political contributions" and that they constituted a "Fund for the Founding of the Taiwan Nation." Wang has not argued that "I may have peddled influence, but I should nevertheless be able to remain Speaker of the Legislative Yuan." Wang argued that he was concerned about the abuse of power in a case under appeal, and that he was not peddling influence in the Ker Chien-ming corruption case. Wang and Chen denied wrongdoing. Their denials can be disproven. They know that corruption must be prosecuted, and that influence peddling by the Speaker of the Legislative Yuan cannot be tolerated.
The two cases generated major shockwaves, mainly because Wang and Chen refuse to admit what they did. This offers their supporters convenient rationalizations. After all. their supporters have no desire to say "I support corruption. I support influence peddling." They prefer to say "I support Taiwan independence. I support those who toil without rewards." The two cases have been or are being handled. Chen has been prosecuted. Wang Jin-pyng's party membership has been revoked. But social divisions remain. Conversely, Chen Shui-bian could have confessed to embezzlement and calmly accepted his punishment. Wang Jin-pyng could have admitted that his influence peddling was wrong and resigned on his own initiative. Society as a whole would not be so confused about right and wrong. The problem is that neither of the men are willing to admit doing wrong. They prefer to hijack the political system, incite social divisions, and invert right and wrong in order to escape prosecution.
The Wang case is more complex than the Chen case. In an unguarded moment, Chen Shui-bian admitted that he was "guilty of doing what the law does not allow." He resigned his party chairmanship and later his party membership as well. These were part of an attempt to ease political pressure. When the Chen trial began, Chen Shui-bian was no longer president. Political maneuvering inside and outside the courtroom had powerful repercussions. But by then Chen was no longer either a party member or a government official. The repercussions did not impact the normal functioning of government. Wang Jin-pyng by contrast, is currently the well connected Speaker of the Legislative Yuan. His case directly impactsd the workings of the legislature and the constitutional and political structure. Wang Jin-pyng's party membership has been revoked. Yet he has assumed a combative posture. He pretends that it is all business as usual, and that he is still the Speaker of the Legislative Yuan. He even seized control of the Legislative Yuan Correspondence Office. As we can see, Wang Jin-pyng has taken the political system hostage. He has incited social divisions. The impact of his actions are every bit as serious as Chen Shui-bian's. For the most part, the Chen case merely intensified Blue vs. Green divisions. The Wang case has precipitated not only Blue vs. Green divisions, but even divisions within the Blue camp. Such divisions could even lead to a showdown between a Lien, Soong, DPP alliance on one side, and Ma Ying-jeou on the other.
If a speaker of the legislature peddles influence, he can no longer lawfully remain in office. What ought to be debated now, is how Wang should be dealt with, and what sort of language should apply.
Huang Shi-ming dealt with the matter by holding an "administrative inquiry" rather than a "criminal investigation." He may have been skating on the edge of the law. But he was still within the law. He probably made the right choice. A "criminal investigation" would have necessitated a subpoena. It would have posed the question whether to begin a lengthy prosecution. It would have posed the question of how to deal with a sitting speaker of the legislature and the chief convener of the DPP legislative caucus. These would have been practical impossibilities. Proceeding heedlessly would have exacted an unimaginable social cost. An "administrative investigation" enabled the Party Disciplinary Committee to deal with the matter. This dramatically reduced the social impact of the scandal. Accusations of "first convict, then try" have no merit. After all, this was a party discipinary procedure, not a judicial procedure. For example, Lin Yi-shi has been expelled from the party, but his case has yet to be tried in a court of law.
The laws pertaining to major cases such as a speaker of the legislature peddling influence appear to be inadequate and filled with loopholes. Speaker of the Legislative Yuan Wang Jin-pyng peddled influence. If he is prosecuted in the courts, the social cost will be too high. Expecting the Legislative Yuan to discipline him is a pipe dream. The KMT Party Constitution includes the "Hsu Shu-po Provision." It enabled President Ma Ying-jeou to simultaneously serve as party chairman. Otherwise, the president could have covered up the Wang Jin-pyng influence peddling scandal. The KMT Disciplinary Committee could have refused to act. Wang Jin-pyng might have agreed to a slap on the wrist from the courts. He would then cling to his position as speaker of the legislature. Would this not have resulted in an inconceivable constitutional crisis?
The Wang case is a major case. Oversights regarding the details are certain to occur. But if a Speaker of the Legislative Yuan peddles influence, he must be removed from office. There is no room for dithering. The handling of the Wang case has reached a certain stage. But as in the Chen case, the truly adverse consequences concerned the inversion of right and wrong among the public. This incident coming to light has revealed the ugly undersides of both the KMT and the DPP.
2013.09.13 03:13 am