Guilty or not, allegations stain Tsai's reputation
The China Post news staffProsecutors have closed a corruption probes against former opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen, clearing her of all charges. But the legal vindication has not convinced her critics.
August 17, 2012, 12:17 am TWN
The United Daily News, in an editorial published Wednesday, said it respects the prosecutors' decision, but continues to question the former Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman's integrity.
The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) has defended its statements by saying their allegations made against Tsai were “reasonable.”
It should be pointed out that the allegations were made at a “reasonable” time — during the last month leading to the 2012 presidential election.
It remains unknown how badly the allegations affected Tsai's campaign, but the case highlights the often-employed smear tactics during election times.
The most controversial and famous case of smearing in Taiwan's election history is probably the one against People First Party Chairman James Soong when he was running for president in 2000.
He had fallen out with his mentor, then-President Lee Teng-hui, and mounted an independent campaign when he was accused of misappropriating millions of KMT funds during his stint as the party's secretary-general.
He was a political star and front-runner at the time, but the allegations shifted the focus of the campaign from his credentials and platforms, with all public attention directed to his integrity, or lack thereof.
He eventually lost narrowly to his DPP rival Chen Shui-bian, with most observers believing damage done by the corruption allegations was one of the major factors in his defeat.
Soong was subsequently exonerated by the court. But was the court's decision sufficient enough to clear his name?
On the same front, is the prosecutors' decision to drop the case against Tsai enough to clear her name?
We are not trying to pass judgment on Soong or Tsai's cases, but simply trying to point out that their critics would likely question their integrity no matter the legal decisions of any court.
That is the horror of smear tactics. They hijack all public attention without providing sufficient information for the public to make judgments.
The general public is unable to have access to all information, and they mostly depend on the press. The press' access to crucial information is also limited, particularly once prosecutors begin an investigation.