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Monday, September 28, 2009

How judicial system works in Taiwan - Chen Shui-bian’s case just one in many examples of how pan-green supporters are treated in Taiwan

This post will review many un-noticed details derived from Taiwan’s biased judicial system surrounding Chen’s case and hopefully will gather international opinions to force the KMT-ROC government to release Chen, so he can fairly prepare his defense. Hopefully Chen's case will bring about discussions on how pan-green supporters are treated in Taiwan's legal system.

The Taipei Times reported today that:
Law professor Jerome Cohen — a professor of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) at Harvard University — said that Chen faced the near-impossible task of defending himself from jail and was “fighting with one arm tied behind his back.”
Waldron, who has a long history of links with Taiwan, said: “The way Chen has been treated is not the way a developed and modern country deals with a former head of state. There is an element of the other political side getting its own back.”
He said the KMT had “dirty laundry that is stored in all kinds of closets and hidey-holes around Taiwan,” adding that their lack of zeal in “pulling this dirty laundry out and going through it” was obvious.

I must admit that I didn’t pay as much attention as I should to the former president Chen Shui-bian’s case other than knowing that Chen’s human rights were violated. On September 11, 2009, after severe punishments were handed down to the people involved in Chen’s case, more and more un-noticed judicial details about this case over the past few months have caught my attention.

What really bothers me is that under the current Ma administration, a judge or a lawyer cannot carry out his duties free from threats, which often came from the KMT law makers, and occasionally even from the minister of justice. Examples will be given later in the post.

Also, there is no such thing as first-registered first served type of order in Taiwan’s judicial system, therefore, many cases against the KMT officials are being delayed indefinitely while cases against former DPP officials are being handled quickly. There is a semi Chinese-language website that listed a number of hi-profile cases involving KMT official that are being delayed forever.

After Ma came into power, the quality of Taiwan’s judicial system is deteriorating day by day.

But first, let’s review the breaking old news from about a month ago that you may have missed but is much related to the topic of this post.

The current Presidential Office has submitted a report seeking the approval by the Legislative Yuan to increase the “state affairs fund” by NT $10 million.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) has confirmed a report that it is seeking legislative approval to increase the fund from NT$30 million (US$913,000) to NT$40 million. The fund was NT$50 million for 24 years until 2007, when it was slashed to NT$30 million amid corruption allegations against then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his family.
Read the op-ed from the Taipei Times EDITORIAL: Discretionary cash needs oversight on Saturday, Sep 05, 2009, Page 8 in details.

Didn’t Ma Ying-jeou adopt the policy of reconciliation with China and therefore taking a break from competing with China for diplomatic friends (外交休兵) and yet his office was seeking to increase the budget in the “state affairs fund”? Do you see a problem here? If you do, from now on every Taiwanese citizen should carefully monitor how the Legislative Yuan responds to Ma’s request.

What’s more interesting is that according to the judgment document of Chen’s case; the sentence, which is the portion of the text up to page 10 of the 1,415 pages of Chinese-language document (referring to the on-line Adobe page number, not the page number shown on the document), nearly all the “stolen” proceeds and the imposed fines must be returned to the presidential office instead of the nation’s treasurer or receiver general (UK or Commonwealth term).

Imaging if all the proceeds and the fines were paid to the presidential office, Ma’s office would be so rich like a person who just won a grand prize in a lottery draw. What does Ma want to do with all these money coming to him I wonder.

And if I were Chen and had to “bribe” foreign politicians from my private pocket (instead of the insufficient state affair fund) to keep Taiwan recognized by a few countries, I’d prefer to give up my president’s position.

Let’s get back to the subject matters about how Chen’s case was (mis)handled by the judicial system in Taiwan.

In Taiwan, a judge doing his job could be threatened by a legislator while senior government officials watched and kept silence
Chiu Yi’s (note by me: a KMT legislator) threat to impeach the original judge after he released Chen from custody was not, to the best of our knowledge, repudiated by senior KMT officials, government officials or the justice minister — a stunning silence and a most regrettable development.
Read the op-ed Legal farce warrants ICJ intervention from the Taipei Times on Saturday, Jan 03, 2009, Page 8

Plus, a lawyer acting on behalf of the interests of his client could risk losing his bar license
Despite a resolution approved by the Taipei Bar Association last month not to take any disciplinary action against Cheng over his handling of Chen's case, the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office on Wednesday decided that Cheng had violated legal ethics and his case has been submitted to a disciplinary committee consisting of three judges, one prosecutor and five lawyers for review.
Read the news of Bar association defends Chen Shui-bian's lawyer from the Taipei Times on Saturday, Jan 03, 2009, Page 1

Threats of extending detention if Chen’s office would hold press conference
...prosecutors objected to defense requests for the calling of witnesses because, among other reasons, doing so might benefit the defendants of the day. That this nonsensical component of the objection was not immediately overruled by the judges is most interesting.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Chen's office wants to bring international attention to the issue. With massive pressure on defense counsel coming from the largely pro-blue-camp media, a foreign perspective could give Chen’s team a more solid footing in the media war against his political foes.
With intellectual property rights law playing such an important part in relations with the US, for example, it is ironic that the justice minister would object to expert overseas scrutiny of the judiciary on any pertinent case. Yet this is exactly what Wang did, warning Chen’s office that any complaint to the foreign press would discredit the nation.
Meanwhile, one of those legislative committee members, convicted criminal Chiu Yi (邱毅), warned — in all seriousness — that holding such a press conference could result in the judges extending Chen's detention. The ramifications of a person of Chiu’s visibility being able to say things as contemptuous of natural justice as this, and with impunity, are frightening, though few seem to care.
Read the Taipei Times op-ed of More tricks in the Chen legal circus on Saturday, Mar 07, 2009, Page 8.

A comparison of the fate of Ma and Chen’s subordinates

Chen Shui-bian’s cashier’s verdict, acquitted but still fined

Chen Chen-hui, the former cashier at the Office of the former President Chen, was charged with forgery for helping the first couple obtain the refunds. She was acquitted of all charges against her, but the judge ordered her to share (with no judgment on what proportion) the repayment of the misappropriated funds with the Chens and two of her supervisors.

(I copied a portion of Chen Chen-hui’s verdict from page 8 of the adobe reader of the on-line judgment)

"Ms. Chen hasn't taken even a penny from the misappropriated funds," said her attorney Lin Ta-chieh, and she is having difficulty sharing the repayment of NT$100 million in misappropriations.

So, Ms. Chen Chen-hui was acquitted of her “crime”, but in Taiwan an acquitted person is really not fully acquitted because she has to help finance the fines of the other accused with unspecified proportion. How to share the fine? Does she have to sue the other people involved or what? Interesting verdict indeed!

Ma Ying-jeou’s treasurers granted deferred indictment
Taipei City Government treasurer Wu Li-ju (吳麗洳) and two others were granted deferred indictment by prosecutors for their alleged role in a scandal involving President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) special allowance funds when he was Taipei mayor.

Ma’s three treasurers, Wu, Liu Jin-jung (劉靜蓉) and Hsu Yu-mei (徐玉美), allegedly forged documents stating that some employees had been paid bonuses.

Taipei District prosecutors said because the treasurers had cooperated with the investigation after being confronted with the charges and had not profited from their crimes, they were granted a three year deferred indictment.

The three were accused of claiming more than NT$850,000 in funds by submitting forged receipts to Yu Wen (余文), who served as Ma’s secretary at the time.
Read Taipei Times’ news of Former Ma treasurers granted deferred indictment on Thursday, Sep 03, 2009, Page 3.

The fate of Ma’s former secretary, Yu Wen

Excerpts from the same source above:
In February 2007, the Special Investigation Panel of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors’ Office indicted Ma and Yu on charges of corruption.
Prosecutors alleged that Ma embezzled more than NT$12 million (US$400,000) from the mayoral fund with Yu’s help.
The Taipei District Court handed down the first verdict on Aug. 14, 2007.
Ma was found not guilty, while Yu was sentenced to 14 months in prison, which was later reduced to 12 months by the Taiwan High Court.
But perhaps not everyone knows he got out early (and I am not saying he shouldn’t) for good conduct, and of course nobody knows what Ma may have compensated Yu-Wen for him to spend his precious time in jail.

Not to make this post too lengthy, another interesting but quite relevant case in Taiwan is the former legislator, Diane Lee, who ripped the taxpayers off for the equivalent of 3 US million dollars, but got by with a minor charge of just falsifying documents. She was not charged with corruption! Read an excellent post from the Letters from Taiwan.

Diane Lee's case brought us imaginations on why the Legislative Yuan would delay indefinitely on passing a proposed amendment to the Nationality Act, is Ma not clean on his foreign permanent residence / citizenship status?

Taiwanese must never surrender to injustice, it does not affect only Chen Shui-bian’s case, the pan-green supporters will continue to be treated the same way Chen was treated under the KMT-ROC’s judicial system.

The real reasons that Taiwan’s former president, Chen Shui-bian is in jail were:

• He interrupted the KMT’s one-party rule for eight years and strengthened Taiwan’s democratic reform.
• Since he was too tolerant for the opposition, he squandered a chance to charge the KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) with treason after their visit to China, and signing agreements with the Chinese authorities.
• He represented the will of the Taiwanese people for self-determination and wanted to make Taiwan a normal nation, so the rights of Taiwan’s 23 million citizens could be represented in the UN, the WHO, and other international organizations.
• He should have devoted less time on managing national affairs, and more time on his family affairs; but what do we elect a president for?

Please view the video of CNN’s Talk Asia Interview with Chen on Jan.27, 2007, and just to the right of the video, don't miss clicking the “read more” to see many interesting links from there.


ANALYSIS: Chen’s case highlights judicial shortcomings from Taipei Times on Tuesday, Sep 22, 2009, Page 3

A laughable verdict from Taipei Times on Friday, Sep 25, 2009, Page 8

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