Corruption in High Places
IMichael Walker recall a high-profile Saint Lucian opposed to relations with Taiwan referring to corruption in Taiwan but failing to mention the way the Taiwanese deal with the abuse of power. Saint Lucians tired of corruption in high places would do well to study Taiwan's handling of such affairs. Chen Shui-bian, who visited Saint Lucia after normal service was resumed, served as President of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008. Born to an impoverished tenant farming family, Chen entered the National Taiwan University and became editor of the school's Law Review. He passed the bar exams before the end of his junior year with the highest score, becoming Taiwan's youngest lawyer, which presumably shows that being a bright lawyer does not make anyone honest.
As the editor of a weekly pro-democracy magazine Chen was jailed for libel after he published an article critical of a future KMT legislator. After his release, Chen co-founded the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and was elected a member of the Legislative Yuan. As Mayor of Taipei, Chen tried to drive illegal gambling and prostitution rackets out of the city, levied large fines on polluters and reformed public works contracts. One of Asia's rising stars, he made Taipei one of Time Magazine's top 50 Asian cities, which presumably shows that being an anticorruption advocate does not make anyone honest either.
Chen won the 2000 presidential election with 39% of the vote. Although a supporter of Taiwan independence, he pledged that as long as Mainland China did not use military force against Taiwan, he would neither declare independence nor change the national symbols of the Republic of China. He also promised to be 'President of all the people' and resigned his chairmanship from the DPP, which presumably shows that saying you are on the side of the people does not necessarily mean you are.
In 2001 Chen visited New York, a first for a Taiwanese leader as there was an unwritten agreement between the US and China that no Taiwanese head of state would be permitted to visit New York or Washington. When Chen again became the chairman of the DPP images of Chiang Kai-shek disappeared from public buildings. The word "Taiwan" was printed on new ROC passports. In 2003 Chen flew to New York City for a second time and was presented with the Human Rights Award by the International League of Human Rights. In Panama, he shook hands with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, all of which presumably shows that being leader allows you to flaunt laws, rules and conventions that others have to follow.
In 2004 he won reelection by a narrow margin after surviving a shooting on the day before the election. Opponents suspected him of staging the incident for political purposes. However, the case was officially closed in 2005 with all evidence pointing to a single conveniently deceased suspect, which presumably shows what little “IMPAC” evidence can sometimes have.
In 2005 Chen became the first ROC president to visit Europe when he attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II. The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with the ROC. On his way back he stopped over at the United Arab Emirates. The head of state greeted him and hosted a formal state dinner, infuriating Mainland Chinese officials. Chen then went on to Jakarta in Indonesia, which presumably shows that dead men tell no tales.
In 2006, Opposition politicians accused Chen of using USD 310,000 worth of "fake invoices" to claim expenses. At a later press conference Chen claimed that when he took office he thought his salary was so excessive that he cut it in half, which presumably shows that politicians can fool most of the people most of the time. Later, an anti-corruption campaign accused Chen of corruption and demanded his resignation collecting over one million signatures, which presumably shows that you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
Chen stepped down in 2008. His approval ratings had fallen from 79% to just 21%. A year later he was found guilty of embezzlement, bribery and money laundering involving a total of USD 15 million while in office; he received a life sentence and was fined USD 6.13 million. The High Court later reduced his life sentence to 20 years. Chen has serious health problems; he suffers from paranoia of food poisoning, serious sleep apnoea, stuttering, tremor of the hands, cerebral syndrome, loss of memory, brain atrophy, and cannot walk properly. He unsuccessfully attempted suicide in 2013.
Chen discovered that nobody in Taiwan is above the law. For almost the past year he has, however, been on medical parole and appears to be confident that the new DPP president Tsai Ing-wen, whom he mentored, will grant him a pardon, having been sworn in on May 20. But, for now, he is still paying the price for his abuse of authority whilst in office, whereas in other parts of the world present and former leaders live on to enjoy the fruits of their labours, which presumably shows that corruption and morality are merely a matter of geography or political power.