Ah-Bian is Raking Muck, Again
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 6, 2010
Former President Chen Shui-bian has published yet another book. This time, the "king of muckrakers" has shown a real eye for marketing. He chose October 9, the eve of the 99th October 10 Republic of China National Day to publish his new book. President Ma Ying-jeou will soon be announcing a series of events commemorating the Republic of China Centennial. Former President Chen has chosen to go head to head with President Ma in a contest of political charisma. The timing of the book's release, its title, and even its content, are certain to make Chen the focus of public attention. The title of his new book is "The 1.86 Ping Presidential Office." [Note: 1.86 Ping is approximately 6 Square Meters] Its contents include revelations about Taipei/Beijing/Washington trilateral diplomacy.
It makes no difference how long has been out of office. It makes no difference where he has ended up. Chen Shui-bian always has a knack for making himself the center of attention. Actually, Chen longs not merely to be the center of attention. Chen longs for genuine political influence. At the beginning of the five cities elections, Chen Shui-bian, a guest of the Taipei Detention Center, was nevertheless eager to mastermind the DPP's nomination process and election strategy. When the "Chen Shui-bian card" proved ineffective, former President Chen, ever the realist, acknowledged his defeat at the hands of DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen, and praised her as a "brilliant chairman." But Chen Shui-bian remains convinced that his ongoing detention was a key contributor to the DPP's recent string of electoral victories. No matter how much the outside world may change, within his 1.86 Ping jail cell, Chen Shui-bian still believes he can manipulate the strategic political scene. In one sense, he does enjoy greater freedom than he did while he occupied the real presidential palace. He can say all sorts of things the president dare not say and should not say. Within his 1.86 Ping jail cell, Chen Shui-bian is now free of all taboos.
Chen Shui-bian's chief counsel Chen Song-shan said that Chen Shui-bian's book contains over 10,000 words of information never before made public. They include secrets pertaining to the triangular relationship between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington, cross-Strait relations, military relations, and foreign affairs. Chen Sung-shan said the contents were explosive. As an ex-president, Chen Shui-bian of course had many opportunities to hear and even make decisions pertinent to the Republic of China's diplomatic interests, national security interests, and national defense interests. He may be an ex-president, but many of these matters remain highly sensitive. Therefore he must exercise prudence before making them public.
Every time Chen Shui-bian engaged in muckraking, he gained media attention. Maybe that is why he became an obsessive muckraker. Some TV pundits are the same way. So are some participants in the ongoing "Life in the Cram Schools" sex scandals. Like Chen Shui-bian, the more they are offered a public forum, the more addicted they become to their notoriety. Chen Shui-bian's retirement office has announced the number of books Chen has sold since his detention. His first book, "Taiwan's Cross," which is now in its sixth printing, sold 47,000 copies. His second book, "Voice that Cannot be Imprisoned," whic is now in its second printing, sold 30 000 copies. His third book, "The 1.86 Ping Presidential Office," has yet to be published. Because of its explosive content, it is likely to become a bestseller. Based on the number of books he has published, the amount of attention they have attracted, and the volume of book sales, Chen Shui-bian must be considered a best-selling author. The book market is in a downturn. Even books authored by powerful and influential people do not always sell. Whether Chen Shui-bian has any writing ability, we leave to others. But his ability to generate controversy is undeniable. Ah-Bian's skills as a muckraker and rabble-rouser cannot be denied.
When Chen rakes muck, he does not discriminate. Everyone and everything is fair game. In his "Voice that Cannot Be Imprisoned," he revealed that his daughter Chen Hsing-yu was a victim of infidelity. The couple was married for nearly a decade. They had three sons. They lived through the Taiwan Development Corporation Scandal, and Chen Hsing-yu's public denunciation of her father in law. Chen Hsing-yu's marriage to Chao Chien-ming may need to be nursed back to health. Chen Hsing-yu has long detested media harassment and media coverage. Chen Shui-bian's daughter and her ex-boyfriend have long since married other people. They are no longer in contact, and neither have made public their past affairs. Why Chen Shui-bian chose to write such an expose so many years later, leaves many people bewildered. These were private matters that affected only the Chen family. Even a compulsive muckraker who made public such secrets, would embarrass only his own family and a few private individuals. He would have little impact on the national interest. Chen Shui-bian might have a big mouth. But as long as his exposes are confined to private matters, the rest of us need not be concerned.
But if as Chen's retirement office said, Chen Shui-bian's third book will be a major expose of the Republic of China's national defense secrets and diplomatic secrets, then the matter cannot be taken lightly. The Republic of China has more than its share of diplomatic problems. Cross-Strait relations are strewn with mines. As a former president, Chen Shui-bian cannot be unaware of this. Many things may be done covertly, may not be mentioned overtly. If they are, it will ring disaster down on the Republic of China. Chen Shui-bian said many things he should not have, merely because he was running for office, or because he liked showing off. Officially, Chen was in a sensitive situation. Diplomatically, the Republic of China was in a difficult dilemma. His loud-mouthed behavior negatively impacted the nation. The United States responded bluntly, even insultingly. Chen Shui-bian may have responded by merely "wiping the spit off his face." But frankly, seeing one's president treated in this manner by his counterparts, made many on Taiwan very uncomfortable.
Chen may be attempting to promote book sales. He may be attempting to lash out at his political opponents. But before former president Chen blurts out national security secrets, we urge him and his publishers to think twice. Shooting off his mouth will not merely humiliate Chen Shui-bian and the public on Taiwan. Loose lips could inflict grievous harm on the Taiwan Chen Shui-bian purports to love so dearly.