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Can Chen Shui-bian be pardoned?

Political pundits are making suggestions that former President Chen Shui-bian be pardoned to soften the deepening antagonism of the Democratic Progressive Party against President Ma Ying-jeou's Kuomintang in the aftermath of the devastating Sunflower student movement. Demands for transparency in the conclusion of cross-strait agreements notwithstanding, the student activists just wanted to reawaken the distrust of Ma the Chinese mainlander and reassert Taiwan independence, of which Chen in prison for corruption and graft is a totem, by storming the Executive Yuan and occupying the Legislative Yuan for 24 days.

Ma's pardon certainly will mitigate the increasingly sharp confrontation between the two parties, though it can't lower the antagonism. But he can't and shouldn't exculpate Chen Shui-bian, whose corruption and graft trial hasn't been completed.

The president has the exclusive prerogative to pardon any criminal, but no pardon should be granted unless that criminal repents what he or she has done. Chen has never repented, and instead claimed all the money he had raked in would be used to establish his republic of Taiwan.

Is Chen going to retract his claim and repent?

While Chen was still in detention, he alleged that a U.S. military government has occupied Taiwan since the end of the Second World War, and continues to occupy the island even today. He pleaded with the U.S. Military Court of Appeals in Washington to order the nonexistent American military government of Taiwan to instruct President Ma to immediately release him and countermand his sentence of life imprisonment. In an desperate attempt to escape imprisonment, he claimed that during his two terms as president, he was aware of the existence of the U.S. military government, and carried out its orders. He declared he was in fact an agent of that military government and the colonial governor of Taiwan for the United States, receiving orders from the chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan while he served as president of the Republic of China for eight years.

Roger C. S. Lin, a Chinese American lawyer who filed Chen's appeal with the U.S. military appellate court, helped organize a Taiwan civil government on February 2, 2008 to pave the way for his release. The civil government claims the right to rule Taiwan in collaboration with the American military government as part of the United States, which Lin claims still legally occupies the island. Cheng Chung-mo, a former vice president of the Judicial Yuan, heads the civil government, which held a world congress on April 25, 2010, and opened an office in Washington, D.C. on September 8, 2010.

Of course, Chen was not prosecuted for his claim. As a matter of fact, he should be tried for treason, but no legal action has been taken against him. Can Ma pardon a self-proclaimed traitor?

Though not charged, Chen is responsible for tearing Taiwan asunder. To win elections for his Democratic Progressive Party, he stoked the feud between the Hoklo-Hakka majority and the minority of Chinese mainlanders, those immigrants who came to Taiwan from China after 1945 and their offspring, who were born and brought up on the island. His creeping independence policy was instrumental in promoting a “hate-China” campaign that divided the people into two groups, one for Taiwan independence and the other for eventual unification with China. Taiwan lost the communal harmony it had tried hard to achieve over the past six decades. Come election time, friends become foes and even families are divided. That is a crime against the country, unpunishable according to Taiwan's statute law, albeit Chen is unpardonable just for this reason alone.

President Ma and anybody who succeeds him, in particular the Democratic Progressive Party standard bearer who is most likely to win the presidential election of 2016, cannot and should not pardon Chen Shui-bian, unless he repents and asks for mercy..

April 22, 2014    ohmy!@
Do you really have nothing else to write an editorial about??? This piece of nihilist "art" will only awaken Chinese trolls in the mainland who now really believe this is seriously being discussed in Taiwan. Watch this space...
April 22, 2014    dancoholic@
This article makes me feel so sick! Whoever wrote this knows nothing about Taiwan's democracy and people's longing for true independence.
If anyone who cares enough to search the information online, it would be clear that the imprisonment of our former President Chen is a political persecution: there was no procedural justice in Chen Shui-bain's prosecution. This author insists that Chen should "repent" of his crime and thinks his claim of saving the money for building the republic of Taiwan a lie. Is it really that hard for this author to understand Chen's determination to help Taiwan grow into an independent country free from the military threat of the Communist party of China?
If you are going to sling more mud at Taiwan's former President Chen by calling him a "traitor", I would suggest you another more properly suited candidate: Ma Ying-jeou.
April 22, 2014    armyboy@
Are you naive? U really believe he saved the money for the sake of ROC? So when he is to run again as your president he will bring back the money to rebuild Taiwan? DREAMING! Even kindergarten students will not be bluffed by this!
April 23, 2014    Ryangiannamore@
Am I the only one who notices this article looks like it was written by a 12 year old? Taiwan's dejure stateship is a definite need however it can not come at the price of rule of law, nor the economy.
April 23, 2014    normanytlim@
dancoholic@ wrote:
This article makes me feel so sick! Whoever wrote this knows nothing about Taiwan's democracy and people's longing for true independence.
If anyone who cares enough to search the information online, it would be clear that the imprisonment of our former President Chen is a political persecution: there was no procedural justice in Chen Shui-bain's prosecution. This author insists that Chen should "repent" of his crime and thinks his claim of saving the money for building the republic of Taiwan a lie. Is it really that hard for this author to understand Chen's determination to help Taiwan grow into an independent country free from the military threat of the Communist party of China?
If you are going to sling more mud at Taiwan's former President Chen by calling him a "traitor", I would suggest you another more properly suited candidate: Ma Ying-jeou.
I fully agree with you. This article has a very strong pro-Ma undertone. To a certain extent, it is trying to divert the present crises from the public. Also, the editor is trying to make a fool of the people by suggesting that all the current issues are political.
April 24, 2014    piawliangjohny@
Where is the money? They should also check previous president before Mr. Chen Shui Bien became president. They should check the first Ladies too...
April 24, 2014    heartless@
At any time, give me a president that's financially corrupt but has his heart with his country rather than one that's morally corrupt with his heart closer to another country
April 24, 2014    normanytlim@
piawliangjohny@ wrote:
Where is the money? They should also check previous president before Mr. Chen Shui Bien became president. They should check the first Ladies too...
Good shot. Perhaps they should also extend the net to cover the previous premiers and the big boys at the top.
May 13, 2014    lanzenritter@
Treasonous Ma is spending trillions of dollars through back door corruption without accomplishing anything significant in infrastructure. All major projects under treason Ma went over the original budget 2 to 3 times with a lowest low quality, while under Chen, all major projects were all completed way under budget with top quality. The worst and tragic irony of Taiwan is that the real corrupted guy, Ma, and his party, KMT, were able to smear Chen and DPP as corrupted. Wake up!
May 15, 2014    kcter@
How rich is KMT? Where did they get the wealth from? Maybe through hard work and smart investment. Check KMT first before going any further.
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