Cor­rup­tion in High Places

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

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.

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