Effort to exonerate 'China's Schindler' dealt blow
CNATAIPEI --- The Control Yuan has upheld a decision made nearly four decades ago to impeach late Ambassador Ho Fengshan (何鳳山), the man known mainly in Jewish communities as “China's Schindler.”
October 29, 2013, 12:22 am TWN
The finding likely represents a setback for Ho's two children Man-to and Man-li, who have fought in recent years to clear their father's name.
They had asked the Control Yuan — the government branch responsible for monitoring the behavior of civil servants and public agencies — to revisit the case, hoping that it would revoke his impeachment for improperly handling funds while serving as the Republic of China's ambassador to Colombia in the early 1970s.
There was no immediate reaction to the decision from either of Ho's children, who live in the United States. Ho died in San Francisco in 1997 at the age of 96.
Control Yuan members Li Bing-nan and Ma Shiow-ru spent a year and a half going through files and documents before reaching their conclusion.
In the end, Li said, they were convinced by a previously unreleased letter produced by the Foreign Ministry that Ho's handling of public funds and private money had been “flawed.”
The letter, sent by one-time Ho colleague Ting Wei-tsu to the foreign minister in 2000, is “highly credible” given its concrete details, Li said.
Li and Ma believed Ting had no reason to lie because at that time Ting had retired from the foreign service and Ho had passed away.
It was after reading the letter that he and Ma believed the Control Yuan made the right decision to impeach Ho, Li said.
The case surfaced after a member of Ho's staff in Colombia reported to the Foreign Ministry that Ho had filed false receipts and embezzled public funds.
Ho was subsequently impeached and suspended for three years. He was denied a pension when he retired after his posting in Colombia and took up residence in San Francisco.
The Control Yuan report identified several instances where Ho may have handled funds improperly, but the only specific amount identified as being embezzled by Ho was US$427.29 — which he received after presenting fake receipts for liquor purchases.
While supporting the Control Yuan's 1975 decision, Li and Ma faulted the process that led to Ho's impeachment.
The Foreign Ministry claimed at the time that Ho had been given the opportunity to explain himself in the embezzlement case but in fact that was not the case, Li said.
“There was an administrative flaw in the Foreign Ministry's handling of the case,” he said.
Ho became known posthumously outside Taiwan's diplomatic circle thanks to “Schindler's List,” a Steven Spielberg movie that won seven Academy Awards.
Like Oscar Schindler, the protagonist of the 1993 epic, Ho took a personal risk to help save hundreds — perhaps thousands — of Jews facing Nazi persecution.
When serving as Republic of China consul-general in Vienna in the late 1930s (when the ROC still included the Chinese mainland), Ho issued visas for Austrian Jews to make their way to safety in Shanghai, in defiance of an order given by the ROC ambassador in Berlin.
Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany on March 12, 1938. It is known that Ho signed his 1906th visa on October 27, 1938 and continued to issue visas to Jews until he was ordered to return to the ROC in May 1940.
In 2001, Ho was awarded the title “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.