Sunday, December 21, 2003

Old Diplomats Never Die, They Just Fade Away

Old Diplomats Never Die, They Just Fade Away
Bevin Chu - 朱柄文
December 21, 2003

In Memory of Tsing-kang Chu - 朱晉康
Former Minister from the Republic of China to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
1917- 2003

My father began courting my mother when he was a poor college student still in his early twenties. She was a nursing student not yet out of her teens. His shoes were so worn the soles flapped when he walked. He repaired them with string. The year was 1939. The place was Kunmin, in wartorn China.

Despite his near penniless status, whenever he invited my mother out, he would call a rickshaw. He never haggled over the fare. Whatever the driver asked for, my father paid. My mother never forgot his explanation why: "I'm poor, but I won't always be poor, I have a chance at a university education. He isn't as privileged. He'll be poor all his life."

"That's when I knew," my mother said, "he couldn't be a bad man."

My father never forgot those years of hardship. As a professional diplomat he knew exactly how he had to dress to represent his country with dignity. Underneath however, he remained a humble student. The powerful world figures my father encountered or dealt with, including American presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, would have been amused to see the hole-ridden, moth-eaten cotton undershirts he wore beneath his impeccably tailored, charcoal gray, British wool power suits.

My father was not motivated by money. If he had been, he probably wouldn't have spent the final months of his life in a cramped third class hospital room, with only one meter separating him from the patient on his right, and one meter separating him from the patient on his left.

My father was a career diplomat. But for him diplomacy was not a career, it was a mission. What motivated him was not the modest sum the Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid him once a month, but the values General Douglas MacArthur affirmed in his farewell speech at West Point: Duty, Honor, Country. My father was far too modest to ever characterize his lifetime of dedication in such exalted terms, but his record speaks for itself. When he took the diplomatic service entrance exam in the temporary capital of Chungking during WWII, he scored at the top of his class. Perhaps that is not surprising. He was a descendant of the illustrious Neo-Confucian scholar Chu Hsi (Zhu Xi).

In 1949, when the Chinese mainland fell to Mao Tse-tung's communists, my father was a lowly consul at the Chinese Consulate General in Vancouver, Canada. As Chiang Kai-shek transferred the national capital from Nanking to Taipei, funds from the home office dried up. One by one, consulate personnel left their posts. Not my father. Each day he packed a sandwich in his briefcase and took a bus to the office. For seven long months, he kept the office open while my mother kept her husband and a three year old baby alive on castoff chicken giblets and pig intestines purchased for pennies in Chinatown.

In the decades that followed, he invariably received an A rating at every embassy or consulate to which he was posted. My mother long ago lost count of the young lives saved, the damaging incidents averted, and the international respect won as a result of his decisiveness and initiative: the suicidal exchange student he dissuaded from leaping to his death; the gun-wielding merchant seaman he disarmed and hustled back to Taiwan with airfare advanced out of his own pocket; the wealthy and influential Texas oil tycoons, cattle barons, and Saudi royal family members whose glowing opinion of the Republic of China reflected their profound respect for him as a man.

T. K. Chu lived the exemplary life of a traditional Chinese scholar official. If he regretted anything in his life, it would be that he never made ambassador. Good soldier that he was, he never complained, but my mother knew it wounded him deeply.

On March 10, 2003, my father walked into Veterans General Hospital in Shilin. A few hours later, this soft-spoken, self-effacing gentleman who helped shepherd the Chinese nation through a half-century of tumultuous change, who helped make Sun Yat-sen's dream of a modern and prosperous China a reality, walked out with a diagnosis of "high grade glioma," a brain tumor. In September 2003, my mother and I wheeled him into Renai Hospital in Taipei. By then he could no longer speak or move most of his body. At 1:45 pm on Sunday December 21, 2003, my father took his final breath.

Duty, honor, country. Like MacArthur, my father conducted himself with honor. Like MacArthur, he served his country. Tsing-kang Chu is an old diplomat. And like MacArthur, an old soldier, he will never die. He will just fade away, an old diplomat who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.

朱炳文 英文原著
顧華德 中文翻譯












Thursday, January 30, 2003

DPP Suppression of Press Freedom and Free Speech

DPP Suppression of Press Freedom and Free Speech
by Fung Hu-hsiang, Ph.D., former Senator, Republic of China (New Party)
translated by Bevin Chu
January 30, 2003

March 2002

A Bureau of Justice investigative unit searches the premises of Next magazine.

Next magazine reports that Liu Kuan-chun of the National Security Bureau is guilty of accepting bribes. The Ministry of Justice responds. It announces that Next magazine is "under suspicion of leaking national secrets", therefore its premises are subject to search and seizure. The ministry further announces that "the search has no bearing on freedom of the press" and that "even a free press must obey a nation's laws."

September 2002

A Bureau of Justice investigative unit looks into the Hsing Rui Tu scandal.

Former President Lee Teng-hui and Liu Tai-yin embezzle NT$350 billion from the coffers of the KMT, accept illicit kickbacks from the Hsing Rui Tu and Chien Mei construction projects. Lee Teng-hui asks the Chen administration not go forward with its investigation of the crime. Chen Shi-meng, Secretary General of the Presidential Office freely admits to the media that an unnamed "elder" lobbied President Chen, and that is why Liu Tai-yin is being released and the individual who exposed Liu is being arrested and incarcerated instead.

December 2002

President Chen Shui-bian sues the China Times for slander.

In December 2002 the China Times reports that while campaigning for the mayorship of Taipei, President Chen accepted an illegal political cash contribution of NT$4.5 million from the developers of the Hsing Rui Tu construction project.

December 2002

Former First Lady Tseng Wen-hui sues Senators Fung Hu-hsiang, Hsieh Chi-tah and Dai Chi for slander.

Senators Fung Hu-hsiang, Hsieh Chi-tah, and Dai Chi voice suspicions that Tseng Wen-hui, following the March 2000 election defeat, absconded with 54 suitcases filled with US$85 million in cash. They voice suspicions that she landed at Newark airport where she was discovered by US Customs and forced to return to Taiwan two days later. Senator Fung raises these suspicions in the ROC Senate, where he enjoys immunity from prosecution. A district court clears him of wrongdoing, but he is later fined NT$10 million in media apology costs, an unprecedent, record-setting sum, and is sentenced to a four month prison term.

December 2002

Vice President Annette Lu sues the weekly news magazine, The Journalist, demanding that it "give back her good name".

The Journalist weekly implies that Vice-President Annette Lu is the person responsible for spreading vicious sexual rumors about the president and a young female aid. Vice-President Lu demands tens of millions of dollars in media apology costs. The High Court upholds the Lower Court's verdict, and the Journalist loses its appeal.

January 2003

Su Chien-ho and two accomplices are convicted of rape and murder. They are sentenced to death. Following an appeal they are suddenly declared innocent.

Su Chien-ho and two accomplices were originally sentenced to death, but after ten years of appeals their sentences are changed to innocent because President Chen, in a clear case of political interference with the judicial process, wants to exploit the case to publicize his "concern for human rights".

January 28, 2003

Soong Chi-li, a charlatan who publicly boasts he possesses "divine powers" is convicted of defrauding superstitious followers and sentenced to seven years. On appeal his sentence is changed to innocent.

Soong Chi-li commits fraud, and is sentenced to seven years. But Soong, being Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh's "spiritual guru", is acquitted on appeal, leading one to suspect judicial independence on Taiwan has fallen victim to political intervention.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

The Tseng Wen-hui Case: Sixteen Unanswered Questions

The Tseng Wen-hui Case: Sixteen Unanswered Questions
by Fung Hu-hsiang, PhD., former Senator, Republic of China (New Party)
translated by Bevin Chu
January 2003

Introduction: On March 19, 2000 former ROC First Lady Tseng Wen-hui, it is widely believed, fled to New York with 54 suitcases containing US$85,000,000 in embezzled funds, where she was intercepted by US Customs officials. ROC Senators Fung Hu-hsiang, Hsieh Chi-tah and Dai Chi, of the small but influential New Party demanded a thorough investigation of the scandal, which was witnessed by EVA Air baggage handlers, US Customs agents, high-ranking US State Department officials, Bank of America executives, and Brink's security guards. But a deal was apparently struck between the US State Department and former ROC President Lee Teng-hui: In exchange for his resignation as KMT Party Chairman, Lee and his wife would get to keep their ill-gotten gains, and the embarrassment to both governments would be covered up. Not content, a vindictive Tseng filed slander suits. A Taipei District Court dismissed them for lack of evidence. Tseng filed appeals. A more sympathetic High Court presided over by a judge connected to the former president convicted Fung, Hsieh and Dai. Fung was sentenced to 4 months prison and fined NT$10,000,000 in damages. How does the public on Taiwan feel about the verdicts? A scientific poll released by the Chinese Professors Association of Taipei is highly instructive. Forty-two percent of the public believe the judges' verdict was unjust; only 24% believe it was just. Forty-two percent of those with college educations believe the former First Lady is guilty, while 33% of those without a higher education believe she is innocent. Sixty-two percent of the public believes the legal system on Taiwan is incapable of reaching a just verdict free from political influence, while fewer than 16% believe it is. The Democratic Progressive Party has long sold itself as the island's Defender of Justice. The Taiwan public alas, has concluded otherwise.
-- Bevin Chu

Question 1: When former First Lady Tseng Wen-hui called four witnesses to testify on her behalf, to prove she was never out of the country, they offered four mutually conflicting, mutally contradictory versions of what they did during the time in question. Why? Was it because they were questioned separately, hence unable to coordinate the details of their testimony?

Question 2: Lee Wu-nan, the former president's butler/major domo, testified that he accompanied Tseng Wen-hui and her daughter-in-law Chang Yue-yun to Yangminshan to tend the grave of the former First Couple's deceased son, Lee Hsien-wen. Tang Wen-chi, the duty policewoman swore on the other hand, that Lee didn't. Contradictory testimony over significant facts such as this casts serious doubt on their credibility.

Question 3: Tsai Han-ming, Chief of the Presidential Bodyguard testified that the police department's traffic control detail accompanied Tseng Wen-hui's motorcade, proving that the First Lady never left the island. The traffic control detail categorically denied they did any such thing. Why the glaring contradiction? Was it because the police department's traffic control division had the courage to resist pressure from the highest level and insisted on telling the truth?

Question 4: Chief Tsai admitted he burned vital evidence -- President Lee and his wife's itineraries. Why would he do such a bizarre thing? Why would he destroy evidence which proved the former First Lady's innocence -- unless of course it didn't? Furthermore Tsai insisted the president knew nothing of his actions. Really?

Question 5: Tseng Wen-hui knew the entire nation was abuzz with rumors she had skipped the country. Why then did she remain missing for 88 straight hours? If she was really on the island all that time, all she had to do was show her face. Why didn't she? Could it be because she was not in the country at all, hence unable to make the public appearance that would have scotched such rumors? Eighty-eight hours, after all, is enough to make not one, but two round trips from Taipei to New York.

Question 6: Lee Teng-hui trotted out one excuse after another to justify his stubborn refusal to resign the Chairmanship of the KMT. So why did he suddenly resign at noon on March 22, immediately following the return of the cash in Taipei? Was this really nothing more than sheer coincidence? Or did widely circulated accounts of a deal struck with the US government contain more than a grain of truth?

Question 7: The Bank of America alleged that the US currency in question was merely part of a "routine transfer of bank notes". Really? How was Bank of America able to tranfer immense sums through five major international cities, from Taipei to Hong Kong to Toronto to Washington DC to New York, in eight short hours, in such an obvious departure from normal routine?

Question 8: The banknotes in question were used bills, tied with hemp twine. Since when did the Bank of America start making "routine transfers of bank notes" with used bills, crudely tied with hemp twine, stuffed into ordinary plastic bags commonly found on Taiwan?

Question 9: The Bank of America has never been able to supply investigators with five sets of matching withdrawal and deposit forms for the tranfers in question. Why not? Could it be the "routine transfers of banknotes" never took place, and bank officials are not willing to go so far as to falsify documents?

Question 10: The Chairman of Bank of America's Taiwan branch, a US citizen, mysteriously and prematurely resigned, picked up stakes and moved to the United States. It sure looks as if he was determined not to testify, doesn't it?

Question 11: Lee Chang-hsu, a resident of Washington, DC, has stated that his neighbor, a high-ranking State Department official, revealed that Tseng Wen-hui had indeed been caught red-handed smuggling in vast sums of undeclared cash, and that the fiasco "was no secret at the State Department." Yet US Customs refused to issue any official statement. Why?

Question 12: The State Department, it turns out, ordered US Customs not to respond to requests for information. But if nothing happened, why wouldn't the State Department instruct Customs to issue a straightforward denial? Could it be because Lee Chang-hsu's information is correct?

Question 13: Law enforcement officials have refused to subpoena officials at the American Institute in Taiwan -- the US government's defacto embassy on Taiwan. Why? Is it because although AIT personnel enjoy diplomatic immunity and can refuse to testify, any such refusal would amount to an admission they were witholding information?

Question 14: Investigative authorities formed a Special Investigative Unit which soon discovered that something was indeed amiss. So why did they abruptly terminate their investigation? When Fung Hu-hsiang asked one of the officials in charge about the matter, the official explained they were under orders not to dig any deeper.

Question 15: The High Court swept aside eyewitness testimony and physical evidence Fung presented that would have exonorated him. Lee Chang-hsu for example, was willing to identify the State Department official by name. Could this travesty of justice have anything to do with the fact that Lu Ru-yen was among the presiding judges in the case? Lu is the daughter of Attorney General Lu Ren-fa, a Lee Teng-hui appointee who covered up his benefactor's criminal complicity in the Lafayette Frigate procurement scandal.

Question 16: Fung, Hsieh, and Dai had more than sufficient cause to suspect criminal wrongdoing. Not only was it their prerogative as democratically elected officials of the Republic of China to demand a Watergate/Whitewater style investigation, it was their solemn duty. The ROC Constitution guarantees Fung, Hsieh, and Dai immunity from prosecution for just this reason. Yet the High Court acquiesced to every one of Tseng Wen-hui's demands, summoning only the four witnesses Tseng named, while denying Fung Hu-hsiang's witnesses any opportunity to testify on his behalf. Why were Fung, Hsieh, and Dai railroaded? What was the government so afraid of? That the truth might unfavorably impact Chen Shui-bian's re-election bid?