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Saturday, November 04, 2006

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First Family Indictment Extravabonanza!

And here I was thinking we’d be in for a quiet November before the mayoral elections....

It looks like the shit’s really hitting the fan in Taipei today as the news hit that First Lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) has been indicted on of corruption and forgery charges in connection to the mishandling of a secret state slush fund allegedly set up for diplomatic purposes (read: dollar diplomacy). Reports say that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is also guilty of the same charges but is immune from formal indictment as long as he remains president. Jane Rickards of the Washington Post has the call:
Chang Wen-cheng, chief secretary of the High Prosecutor's Office, said prosecutors believe First Lady Wu Shu-chen, embezzled almost $450,000 over the last four years by using false receipts to claim expenses from a government slush fund used for secret diplomatic activities.

Also indicted are a bevy of Chen associates, namely former Presidential Office Vice Secretary-General Ma Yong-chang (馬永成) for forgery, Presidential Office Advisor Chen Chen-hui (陳鎮慧) for forgery and perjury, and Presidential Office Director Lin Te-shun (林德訓) for forgery and perjury. Prosecutors declined to charge Hsinglin New Life Pharmaceutical Co. Chairman Lee Pi-chun (李碧君) and Presidential Office Advisor Tseng Tien-tsi (曾天賜) at this time, though they have two years to conduct further investigations.

According to this Chinese language article from UDN by way of YamNews, Ma Yong-cheng may have dodged a perjury charge thanks to an agreement he made earlier with the Taipei Prosecutors (isn’t there supposed to be an apostrophe in there somewhere?) Office to discuss the case after he resigned as Vice Secretary-General.

The DPP’s Reaction:
The DPP has gone into damage control mode, with Chairman Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) calling a four-hour emergency meeting of the party’s central standing committee. The result of this meeting was a call for President Chen to offer an explanation within three days. I was only able to watch a little bit of the conference but, damn, did Yu look worn out! And it’s only the beginning! Premier Su Tseng-chang has done his best to appear presidential (or at the very least, “premierish”) and called for calm in the midst of this “national crisis”.

The TSU’s Reaction:
Perhaps all those years of treating the TSU like a boil on his ass is finally going to come back and haunt Chen, because the House That Lee Teng-hui Built has said that it will definitely support a third attempt to recall the president through a referendum. That’ll show ‘em!

The Opposition’s Reaction:
Not a big surprise here; Handsome KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and erstwhile PFP Chairasshole/ independent mayoral candidate James “Pot Calls The Kettle Black” Soong (宋楚瑜) have called for the president to resign immediately. You can bet that the Blues will begin pushing the DPP to support any measures it may use in the Legislative Yuan to bring Chen down. According to the story linked above, the KMT has warned Chen to step down within 48 hours or else it will unleash crowds on the streets. Speaking of which...

The “Depose Chen” Crowd’s Reaction:
All aboard the crazy train! Reports say the so-called “Red Shirt Army” has gone off its meds again and is already moved back out in front of the Presidential Office for another round of fun skits and anti-Chen chants. The movement’s Ahab-eque leader, Shih Ming-teh (who until today was said to be “extremely ill“) couldn’t help but feel his oats while marshaling his hordes:
In front of Taipei Station, where supporters of the "Million Voices Against Corruption" campaign had gathered for a month but failed to force Chen to step down, red-clad protesters gathered again and were later led by their leader, former DDP Chairman Shih Ming-teh, to move toward Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office. "We have succeeded! We have triumphed! " declared Shih, as firecrackers went off in celebration of their campaign's success in what campaign leaders claimed to be "forcing the prosecution into indicting the presidential couple." ...

He said this time, he did not have to request Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's permission to use the streets for a sustained sit-in which will not end until Chen has stepped down. "When the president is evidently implicated in a major corruption scandal, I trust that the police and the military will not stay on the side of a corrupt president, " Shih said, calling on the law enforcement officers to "remain neutral."

Surely Shih wouldn’t be calling on the military to overthrow Chen, would he? Sure sounds like it! And the part about ”forcing“ the prosecutor’s office to do it’s job? What the hell is Nori smoking out there, and where can I get some?

The U.S.’s Reaction:
The State Dept. made a perfunctory statement at a press conference today supporting Taiwan’s legal process not presupposing a change of leadership, yadda yadda yadda. No surprise there, but I wonder how many people at the Taiwan desk will be losing sleep tonight for the fear that Chen will unilaterally declare independence just to save his own ass? Sleep tight, suckas!

No time for any deeper analysis now, but I’ll try to hazard some guesses as to what might happen next week after we hear what the man has to say for himself. I will, however, leave you with some homework. Repeat after me until it doesn’t hurt anymore:

”President Annette Lu“.... ”President Annette Lu“... ”President Annette Lu“.... ”President Annette Lu“....


Cross-posted at Wandering to Tamshui

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