Archive for September 12th, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Woeser: Tea with State Security

[Explanation: “Tea Invitations”]

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Last time, she was informed about the “invitation” a day in advance, Woeser notes. This time, on Friday, it was only 90 minutes in advance.

Two state security agents were there, and one of them informed her of a talk he had had with her mother. Her mother was very worried about her, he told Woeser. He also said that he and his colleagues “did everything humanly possible”.  Woeser posted some of their instructions.

  • Let us remind you, do nothing that violates the law (提醒你,不要做触犯法律的事情.)
  • The way you speak gets out of the line. (你的言论很出格了.)
  • You support your family, that’s good. You speak your mind, that’s good. But you must make sure that what you say doesn’t break the law. (你为了养家糊口也好,表达心声也好,要注意你的言论不要触犯法律.)
  • You ought to diligently study the law. (你应该学习学习法律.)
  • Let us remind you, there have been people who said more than you, and there have been people who have said less than you and who have entered before. You should know – some of them are your friends. (提醒你,比你说的多的,比你说的少的,已经进去的不少了。你应该知道,你的朋友圈子里面,有这样的人.)
  • If you go on like this, you will run into a wall. When the time comes, nobody will help you. That applies for you, that also applies for Wang Lixiong. He’s now in America, but when he’s back, we’ll call on him as usual. (你要这么下去,撞了墙也行,到时候,谁也帮不了你。你一样,王力雄也一样。他现在美国,回来了也照样找他).

Asking where exactly the agents believed she broke the law, Woeser was told that she should take a look at criminal law (看看刑法).

Woeser asked if it was about her blog, or her writing. What she wrote was factual, she said, and her blog was her personal space.

She was told that she might think so (那是你自己认为). Didn’t what she wrote refer to Tibet and Xinjiang?

So in the end, Tibet and Xinjiang were mentioned after all.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekender: Taiwan’s Unbelievable Justice

It’s a custom to offer New Years greetings to friends and families, especially elders, on traditional Lunar New Year’s Day, the China Post wrote on January 27th this year. This referred to visits Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan’s former president and elder statesman, received from president Ma Ying-jeou and vice-president Vincent Siew on that occasion.

One can be pretty sure that neither Ma nor Lee were keen on talking with each other. They were at odds in 1999 already when Ma Ying-jeou ran for the Taipei mayorship as a “New Taiwanese” (新台湾人).

Ma-ster of Disaster

Revolutionary Opera

Then why the visit? Maybe just out of respect for old rules – but the timing was certainly handy.  In December 2008, the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office had announced that it would investigate the former president and KMT chairman on suspicion of money laundering. Then came the respectful call on Lee’s home, by Taiwan’s current leaders. They could have paid a visit to Chen Shui-bian, another former president, too. His address was well-known all over the island, and he had to be considered innocent until proven otherwise.

It doesn’t seem that the SIP has seen its investigations against Lee through. And I’m not suggesting it should. Maybe there was nothing that justified even the initial suspicions. But from now, Ma will have to talk with Lee on every Lunar New Year.  Maybe they can discuss the weather, every time.

If you choose Jimmy Lai‘s point of view (as quoted by the Time China Blog, anyway), Chen Shui-bian’s trial was a showcase for the rule of law. But that was in 2008. Back then, Jerome A. Cohen arguably agreed with Lai: “It has put criminal justice, especially criminal procedure, on the map in Taiwan, and this is something that would be wonderful to see on the mainland.”

Cohen was president Ma Ying-jeou‘s mentor at Harvard Law School. And he was much less enthusiastic about Chen Shui-bian’s trial just a few weeks later, after at least one prosecutor appeared in a skit mocking Chen.

Personally, I feel that the whole process smells. And once it starts smelling, it soon does from the taking of evidence to the verdict. It’s kind of like a contested election. When an election is allegedly fraudulent from the beginning, and if the public loses confidence in the process, just a re-count may not be enough – not if the ballot boxes themselves may be corrupted.

President Ma met Professor Cohen in Taipei on Thursday. “I’d like to leave a legacy of building a country based on the rule of law,” he said. “That is the main reason why I am willing to find time to see you today.” And Ma told Cohen that despite its free elections, the rule of law in Taiwan still had a long way to go.

We may never know if Ma Ying-jeou has “forgiven” Chen Shui-bian for defeating the KMT in two free presidential elections. The KMT as a whole certainly hasn’t. It is, after all, a very old party with venerable traditions – too venerable to accept similar judicial scrutiny as the DPP has to. That’s no great condition for true democracy.

Chances are that Ma is not going to change that, and many Taiwanese will suspect that he doesn’t even want to give it an honest try.

It might be time for the DPP to close the gap between itself and its former leader. The question isn’t only if Chen Shui-bian is guilty or not. It’s if all his rights as a defendant have been duly respected. It’s an old question in Taiwan.

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Related: Kuomintang, Wikipedia

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