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  The Fall of a President
  The Fall of a President
 
   
 
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作  者:Osman C.H. Tseng曾慶祥
類  別:人文科普
出  版:白象文化
出版日期:2024年4月
語  言:英文
I S B N :9786263642546
裝  訂:平裝

定  價:NT$600

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Chen Shui-bian is one of the most consequential -- and controversial -- politicians in Taiwan’s modern history.
He broke the political grip of the ruling Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), winning the presidency in 2000 and paving the way for the first peaceful transfer of power to the opposition – the Democratic Progressive Party.
But he was also convicted in four corruption-related criminal cases, and his actions inflicted great political harm on a young democracy. Ultimately, Chen will be remembered as the first president of Taiwan to be sentenced to jail.
Chen’s intriguing story deserves retelling, and veteran journalist Osman Tseng is uniquely suited to the task. Tseng’s journalistic career spanned more than four decades with the Chinese language China Times as well as English media outlets, the China Post, and the China Economic News Service (CENS). This gave him a choice vantage point for observing Chen’s political ascent and the dramatic legal battles of his eventual downfall.



◎代理經銷:白象文化
更多精彩內容請見
http://www.pressstore.com.tw/freereading/9786263642546.pdf

   
 

Preface

The Fall of a President is a work about Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan’s charismatic but controversial former leader. Chen served as the president of Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, from 2000 to 2008, leaving behind a dizzyingly mixed legacy that ran the gamut from praise for his inspirational democratic ideals to vexation and condemnation for his crass and venal behavior. That legacy also included social and political divisions that are not fully healed today.
Several factors compelled me to write this book. First and foremost, the ex-president provides a classic example of how “power corrupts.” In 2000, he came to office pledging to combat corruption and ensure clean government. But eight years later, after stepping down from office, he was prosecuted for taking bribes and money laundering in his official capacity, as well as obstruction of justice.
At the end of protracted court battles, Chen was found guilty and sentenced to a combined 20 years in jail. The charges against him and his wife were many. They were related to taking kickbacks in a land procurement deal, involvement in an office-buying scandal, soliciting payments related to an exhibition hall construction project, receiving bribes to smooth the way for the merger of two financial institutions, and money laundering.
Another convincing reason for undertaking this project was that Chen was an internationally known figure who managed to alarm friends as well as adversaries. This unique quality could be seen in many of the policies pursued during Chen’s time in office and the controversies they created. I hope that my analysis will help future Taiwan administrations avoid such disruptions in carrying out their duties.
In May 2000 when Chen Shui-bian began his first term as president, he famously pledged to the United States and the international community that he would not pursue independence for Taiwan while in office. Independence was – and still is -- the acknowledged “third rail” of Taiwan politics. China insists it is willing to wage war to prevent it. Chen’s message seemed to be clear: he would not cross that thin red line.
But Chen abandoned those firm pledges throughout his presidency, bowing to a combination of greed and political expediency. In a speech in August 2002, Chen declared, “With Taiwan and China on each side of the Taiwan Strait, each side is a country.” The following year, Chen announced he planned to draft a new constitution for Taiwan.
In his final year in office, from April 2007 to March 2008, Chen embarked on a series of political actions that were seen as the most controversial of his presidency. His applications for formal entry into the World Health Organization and the United Nations and his campaign to conduct a U.N.-related referendum prompted strong opposition from both Beijing and Washington. They saw these moves as aimed at promoting Taiwan as an independent country and changing its political status.
A look back at these and other related controversies surrounding Chen’s tenure will provide insights into where Taiwan was heading politically, socially, and economically under his leadership. As I noted earlier, it also offers us valuable lessons that could apply to Taiwan’s future political direction.
There is another personal reason behind my decision to write The Fall of a President. As a longtime journalist and newspaper editorial writer who regularly covered Chen Shui-bian and tracked his performance, I have abundant knowledge as well as a strong sense of the importance of recounting the events of his presidency and commenting on his legacy.
My views and the discussions on the following pages are supported by information collected from the former leader’s statements, news releases by relevant government agencies, court documents, comments by Taiwan and international experts, and reports in authoritative newspapers, as well as the numerous editorials I wrote about the president during his time in office and afterward.
The Fall of a President consists of 11 chapters, with each one covering a specific topic, as listed below.

   
 

Chapter 1
Fall from Grace


Making History Twice

Chen Shui-bian made history twice in his remarkable political career. In March 2000, he successfully toppled the long-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) in a historic popular vote to become Taiwan’s first president from an opposition party. That ended over a half-century of authoritarian KMT rule and ushered in a vibrant two-party political system in Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China. His electoral victory at the head of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) earned him the adulation of many who had longed for a more open political system that truly reflected the will of the people. They saw Chen as a shining symbol of Taiwan’s young democracy.
In November 2008, a few months after completing his eight years in office, Chen made history once again, albeit in a much less laudable fashion; he became Taiwan’s first president arrested for suspected corruption. He was found guilty and sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in jail for taking bribes in a land procurement deal and as payment for an appointment to office. The sentence was later extended to 20 years -- the maximum prison time allowed in his case -- after he was found guilty on two more corruption charges, one involving the taking of bribes from a financial firm and another related to money laundering.
All four convictions also involved the president’s wife, Wu Shu-chen. She was found guilty in a fifth and separate corruption case linked to a scandal involving kickbacks on the construction of the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, a conference and exhibition complex designed to showcase Taiwan’s status in the global economy. Instead, it put on display Taiwan’s murky nexus between business and politics. Despite the additional offense, Mrs. Chen was given the same 20-year sentence as her husband due to the legal limits on sentencing. She was also spared the ignominy of serving time in jail because of poor health and serious physical disabilities. She was wheelchair-bound after being run over by a truck some two decades earlier.
Around the world, it is not unheard of to have a top government leader charged with corruption after leaving office. Sometimes it is a matter of the wheels of justice turning slowly toward a righteous conclusion long after the transfer of power. At other times, particularly in less mature and more malleable legal systems, it is a matter of an incumbent using the powers of office to strike at a former political opponent. In the case of Chen Shui-bian, both claims were made as to the nature of the charges against him. But in the pages that follow, it is hoped that the reader will see that a fair analysis makes clear this was hardly a case of political persecution, despite the charges leveled by Chen’s supporters as well as some prominent, neutral observers. It was, however, truly head-spinning that the former president was found guilty of so many separate instances of graft. His humble origin and stellar career made this a stunning fall from grace. This was a man born into a tenant farming family in the rural township of Guantian in southern Taiwan. In this largely agricultural area, traditional values, such as honesty and integrity, have long been instilled in homes and schools. It was true in 1951 – the year Chen Shui-bian was born. It still holds today, even in this somewhat more cynical day and age.
Chen Shui-bian obtained a bachelor’s degree in commercial law from the prestigious National Taiwan University in 1974. He passed the bar exam during his junior year and entered the legal profession shortly after graduation. All of this might have pointed to the acquisition of a healthy respect for the law.
In his early years in the legal profession, Chen became a partner in Taiwan’s Formosa International Marine and Commercial Law firm. He earned a reputation as a conscientious and promising young lawyer, specializing in maritime insurance.
He soon won acclaim as a "human rights lawyer" for his courage in defending a group of political dissidents charged in what became known as the Kaohsiung incident in 1979. His clients were activists arrested for organizing a rally in the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung on December 10 of that year to commemorate World Human Rights Day. But the event, aimed at giving democracy a peaceful push forward, ultimately turned violent as clashes broke out between police and demonstrators. Taiwan was still under martial law at the time, and some of those arrested were charged with sedition by military prosecutors. Chen lost the case but burnished his reputation.
According to Chen’s account, the experience of defending the political activists implicated in the Kaohsiung incident spurred him to enter politics himself. He later recalled in conversations with friends that it was “during this period that he had come to realize the unfairness of the political system in Taiwan.” In 1980, he joined the Tangwai movement, an informal grouping of opposition figures at a time when opposition parties were banned. The following year, he ran and was elected to the Taipei City Council, a seat he held until 1985.
As democratization gathered pace in Taiwan, the Democratic Progressive Party was formed in 1986 despite the continuing ban on new political parties. Chen was among the founders of the party. The following year, Taiwan ended 38 years of martial law, and with that, the ban on new political parties was formally swept away.
In 1989, Chen was elected to the Legislative Yuan (parliament) as a lawmaker from the DPP and was reelected to another three-year term in 1992. In the lawmaking body, he concentrated his time and energy on attacking the KMT's culture of corruption, then referred to as “black gold" politics, in addition to targeting irregularities in the military.
During his four years from 1994 as mayor of Taipei, the rising political star of the DPP launched a series of high-profile “clean-up” campaigns, including efforts to drive illegal gambling and prostitution rackets out of the city. His policy of levying heavy fines on polluters also earned him widespread support.
While campaigning ahead of the March 2000 presidential election, Chen vowed that, if elected, he would lead a clean government. Due largely to the popularity of his anti-corruption appeal, he triumphed at the polls. When he took the presidential oath of office, he formally committed himself to carrying out political reform and eliminating corruption at all levels of government.
Four years later in 2004, when Chen sought a second term, he ran on this popular platform once again. His reform policy proved popular once more, gaining him another four years.
Given Chen Shui-bian’s repeated pledges to fight corruption and his impressive record carrying out his promises as a legislator, mayor, and president, many of his supporters found it hard to believe the accusations when the first whiffs of the scandal emerged. But the details of his family’s numerous financial dealings ultimately came to light in the final years of his second term, thanks to the efforts of whistleblowers, prosecutors, and a determined local media.
But it is often asked how someone with such strong moral convictions could change so drastically after reaching the pinnacle of power. And how could someone with such a deep respect for the rule of law be accused of so many offenses? This brings to mind an old proverb, most famously linked to British historian Lord Acton: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The experience of Taiwan’s ex-president Chen Shui-bian appears to be a classic example of how morality weakens as power increases, or how power corrupts.
Chen Shui-bian and his wife were first convicted in December 2010 by the Supreme Court on charges of taking kickbacks and bribes. The defendants were sentenced to 17 and a half years in jail. Chen began serving his prison term though his wife was spared a prison term on health considerations.
Yet the 2010 convictions proved to be only the first of a series of final court verdicts handed down to him on a variety of corruption charges. In the following two years, 2011 and 2012, the couple each received an additional two-year sentence for money laundering and another 10-year jail term for taking bribes given by a young executive, Diana Chen (no relationship to Chen Shui-bian). The executive offered the payment in exchange for the first couple’s help in getting a top position managing Taiwan's landmark building -- Taipei 101.
By late 2012, the jail sentences that the former president had received on the various convictions added up to nearly 30 years. However, a provision in Taiwan’s criminal law limited jail terms to 20 years, except for cases where a life sentence could be imposed. Chen was therefore sentenced to a maximum of 20 years. (Although the maximum jail term had been extended to 30 years at the time of sentencing, the lower limit was in effect when the crimes were committed. The 20-year ceiling, therefore, applied to Chen.)
Even though the sentences Chen received far exceeded the maximum 20-year prison term, the former president still had other court cases pending. This raised a curious legal question as to whether these cases could potentially result in additional punishments for the ex-president.
But that hypothetical question was never asked. A year later in December 2013, the Taipei District Court granted an application filed by Chen’s lawyers, asking on health grounds for permission to suspend their client’s trial in two other cases -- one involving “charges of corruption” and one concerning “unauthorized retention of confidential government documents.”
The district court cited a medical report--presented by the lawyers and verified by a group of court-commissioned medical experts--as saying that Chen was suffering from a string of ailments, making him unable to attend hearings. The court at the same time ordered that the trial suspension would remain effective until the defendant was able to attend hearings and answer questions. However, many critics questioned the credibility of the medical report, contending that the medical group consisted of members sympathetic to Chen.
Over more than two years until April 2016, Chen also successfully won court approval for the suspension of other court proceedings. One approval was given by the Taipei District Court and three by the Taiwan High Court. The four cases were about charges of embezzling “state affairs” funds, laundering money obtained from bribes, and perjury.


以上內容節錄自《The Fall of a President》Osman C.H. Tseng曾慶祥◎著.白象文化出版
更多精彩內容請見
http://www.pressstore.com.tw/freereading/9786263642546.pdf

   
 

Osman C. H. Tseng (曾慶祥) is the author of the book The Fall of a President. During his journalistic career of more than four decades, he wrote numerous news analyses, editorials, and commentaries about Taiwan's political development and democratic reform. His writings covered the crucial reform period of Lee Teng-hui's presidency (1989 - 2000), which saw the amending of the ROC constitution, a parliamentary overhaul, a change in the presidential system allowing a direct, popular vote for Taiwan's highest office, as well as the constitutionalizing of civil exchanges with mainland China.

In The Fall of a President, Osman Tseng recounts how former President Chen Shui-bian, once considered an icon of Taiwan's democracy, became better known as a symbol of official corruption and disgrace. Tseng gives a comprehensive account of the various corruption cases that ultimately led to Chen's conviction and sentencing to jail. Tseng also details how Chen Shui-bian during his two terms as president, repeatedly provoked Beijing and Washington with his pro-independence words and deeds.

Osman Tseng is also the author of A Self-Made Man -- a work that narrates his own life story. In that account, Tseng tells his readers how someone with little formal education and after 18 years in the military could ultimately become a professional journalist and a widely read English writer.

 
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