Chen Shui-bian gets hero’s welcome and judge’s tears
by Michael Richardson
Taiwan Policy Examiner
June 6, 2016
Chen Shui-bian, the former president of the Republic of China in-exile, made a rare public appearance June 4 and was greeted by thunderous applause and a tumultuous outpouring of support at a fundraising dinner for the Kaidagelan Foundation. Chen, who is under house arrest, following years in a tiny punishment cell devoid of even a bed, was permitted by Taichung Prison officials to attend the non-profit event for two hours but remain in a private room away from the dinner itself. A line of two thousand people filled the hallways waiting to pay their respects to Chen.
When prison officials said it was time to go, Chen was taken in his wheelchair down a public escalator and was spotted through the open doors of the ballroom where the dinner was held. Immediately those attending burst into thunderous applause and shouts of “President Chen” rang through the air. Supporters and the news media crowded around Chen almost preventing his wheelchair from moving. Camera flashes were so many that they illuminated the charged scene like a strobe light.
Chen is serving a lengthy sentence for alleged corruption which he denies. After a controversial, no-jury, trial with midnight sessions and courtroom heckling of Chen, he was convicted following a change of judges. Continuously prosecuted on a variety of charges, Chen has managed to beat most of them as his case winds through the maze-like ROC court system.
Taiwan’s most popular television talk-show host Peng Weng-jeng was master of ceremonies at the fundraising dinner. Peng, trained in journalism at the University of Wisconsin, made public the statements of an unnamed judge that he has been subjected to all kinds of embarrassments, officially and privately, from the Judicial Yuan after he found Chen not guilty.
The judge told Peng, when he first took over the case, he was certain that Chen was guilty. He was determined to find evidence from piles of receipts. However, after he and his assistants went through every receipt, checking all the details, he was convinced otherwise. The legitimate expenses far exceeded the total budge of the presidential fund. How could Chen embezzle any money if the expenses were a lot more than the total budget?
This judge also revealed that another judge, who sentenced Chen to a long jail term in another trial, told him “I don’t have the courage that you have.”
This judge who found Chen guilty, against the evidence, was presumably under political pressure to do so. The judge was in tears when he shared this secret with Peng. Peng handed him a piece of tissue to dry his eyes.
Chen Shui-bian, claims his prosecution was political because of his views on Taiwan independence. Taiwan has an unresolved sovereignty since World War II and is claimed by both the Republic of China and the Peoples’ Republic of China, despite being owned by neither. Taiwan, then called Formosa, was surrendered by the Japanese at the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The United States is the principal occupying power but has had the ROC administer the island since post-war occupation. The District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals has called Taiwan’s status “political purgatory” imposed by American foreign policy mandates.