Chen Shui-bian and the DPP Owe the Public an Apology
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 23, 2014
Executive Summary: Assertions that Chen's release would bring "blue-green reconciliation" to Taiwan are sheer fantasy. Assertions that Chen Shui-bian going "home for the holidays" would bring warmth to the community are self-deception. Most importantly, this "Free Chen!" farce must not be spun as "Ah-Bian's resurrection." It must not be spun as “The Chen family was never guilty of corruption at all." It must not be allowed to invert right and wrong. To avoid these problems, we urge Chen and the DPP to apologize to the public before Chen is freed. People have been awaiting this moment for six years.
Full Text Below:
The DPP scored a major victory during the nine in one elections. The first thing they did afterwards however, was to convene all 13 elected county chiefs and city mayors, and demand that the Ma government release Chen Shui-bian, alleging that this would be the first step in "blue-green reconciliation". Former Vice President Annette Lu was even more specific. She demanded that Chen be released this month, before the 25th, otherwise she would begin a hunger strike. Under such pressures, the Ma government has apparently begun retreating and equivocating. Yesterday, the Ministry of Justice appeared ready to cave in.
A democratic election was held. Yet the winner shows scant concern for the nation's economic future or how to clean up the political mess. Instead, it devotes all its energy to getting a corrupt former head of state released from prison. Do the DPP's actions deserve public support? The Ma administration has repeatedly proclaimed its reverence for the rule of law. Yet a single defeat at the polls has caused the Justice Minister to lose his way in the Chen family corruption case and obsequiously hint that leniency is possible.
The government appears ready to release Chen. But ambiguous legal and ethical issues remain. This is something the ruling and opposition parties and even the Chen family cannot avoid. The various parties involved must speak clearly and make themselves understood. Otherwise if Chen is hastily released, the troubles will merely be beginning.
One. Will Chen be released on humanitarian grounds, or political grounds? The DPP alleges that releasing Chen would be the first step in blue-green reconciliation. Obviously that would be a case of political considerations. But the Ma government is talking about "amnesty," and "medical leave." Obviously it is attempting to keep his contemplated release a legal matter. It hopes to offer Chen leniency on the grounds that he is a "former president." But Chen's condition would also require a professional opinion from the medical community. In other words, the Ma government may wish to consider legal, political, and humanitarian factors. But its passivity has made all of these options difficult.
Chen Shui-bian has been in prison for six years. Despite his corruption, immorality, and dereliction of duty, every time a health problem emerged, medical leave was granted. Giving him special consideration is not out of the question. But when a president breaks the law, he must be treated the same as any ordinary citizen who breaks the law. If the appeal is to "humanity," then other inmates must be treated the same way. Therefore if ruling and opposition party politicians want to argue the matter, the consistent solution would be to amend the law to relax the requirements for medical leave. Only this would be consistent with the universal application of "humanitarian" considerations.
Two. Giving Chen leave does not mean he is "not guilty." This must be clearly understood. Chen Shui-bian was convicted of corruption after two appeals. He was convicted of corruption in the Longtan case, the Diana Chen case, the Nangang Exhibition Hall case, the Yuan Ta and Fu Hua cases. The sums involved amount to over 600 million NT. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, and fined 200 million NT. He is also implicated in the state affairs fund case and multiple cases of embezzlement. He has yet to appear in court for these because currently these cases cannot proceed. That does not mean that he and others are innocent.
Therefore, the term "freeing Chen" is highly misleading. Even if the Ministry of Justice grants medical leave, It merely means that his physical condition prevents continued incarceration. In fact, he has been receiving medical care from Peiteh Hospital for some time. That does not mean he was "freed" or "acquitted." Alas, the Green Camp has been up to its usual political tricks. Chen Shui-bian may well be granted "medical leave." But the green camp spins it as "release from prison." They are even arguing that he was never guilty in the first place, but was merely a victim of a KMT "miscarriage of justice" then thrown into a "dungeon." The ruling party must make the truth on this point clear. It must not allow the DPP to confuse the public.
Three. Chen and the DPP are mistaken. Chen family corruption cases began erupting In 2006. The DPP backed him unconditionally. It helped him cover up his crimes. Even after his conviction, the DPP never admitted this or issued an apology. It has dug in its heels to this day. Instead, it attempted to make excuses for Chen. Even now it threatens a hunger strike. It is as if Chen Shui-bian never had a problem with corruption or misconduct. How then, can the DPP claim that it has "the ability to engage in soul-searching?"
Consider also Chen Shui-bian's attitude. Chen has been in prison over six years. He has never once expressed any remorse for his heinous crimes of corruption, let alone apologize or admit guilt. Also, Wu Shu-chen's corruption was no less serious than Chen's. But her poor health gave her a pass and spared her a prison term. It did not mean she was not guilty. Also, the Chen family has squirreled away vast sums overseas. These have yet to be recovered. Several cases have yet to go ahead due to health reasons. Has the green camp blanked these out while demanding medical parole for Chen?
Consider the perspective of the public. Assertions that Chen's release would bring "blue-green reconciliation" to Taiwan are sheer fantasy. Assertions that Chen Shui-bian going "home for the holidays" would bring warmth to the community are self-deception. Most importantly, this "Free Chen!" farce must not be spun as "Ah-Bian's resurrection." It must not be spun as “The Chen family was never guilty of corruption at all." It must not be allowed to invert right and wrong. To avoid these problems, we urge Chen and the DPP to apologize to the public before Chen is freed. People have been awaiting this moment for six years.
2014.12.23 02:04 am