[quote]New political storm threat to all public office holders
By Joe Hung The China Post
What started as a low-profile McCarthyist expose of a Kuomintang lawmaker is threatening to engulf practically every high-level public office holder in a new anti-corruption tidal wave.
It was Chiu Yi who began exposing scandal after scandal involving ranking government officials in the summer of last year, acting almost exactly like U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin in the early 1950s.
By innuendoes and demagoguery, McCarthy triggered a communist witch hunt, that left no American officials free from the reckless charges of un-Americanism. He fell after trying to attack President Dwight D. Eisenhower for “being too soft” on the communists.
Chiu succeeded in incriminating first lady Wu Shu-chen in the end. She was indicted on November 3 for corruption. Prosecutors charged her with borrowing receipts and bills from friends and relatives to claim a NT$14.8 million refund from the public fund under her husband’s control for the conduct of “affairs of state.” President Chen was regarded as an unindicted co-defendant. He was not indicted, for he enjoys immunity to prosecution.
To protect the first couple, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party launched an equally vehement counterattack.
It targeted Mayor of Taipei Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as chairman of the opposition Kuomintang.
Ma was questioned by Taipei district prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen in connection with the misuse of his expense account on Tuesday.
No corruption charges have been pressed against Ma, who, however, said he’s “personally” suffered.
DPP leaders could never miss this golden opportunity. They are now calling on the prosecutor to indict Ma for corruption. They sang a chorus of calls on him to step down as mayor of Taipei and Kuomintang chairman as well.
On the other hand, Kuomintang lawmakers are suing five top DPP leaders for criminal misuse of their expense account.
Named in the suit, which Prosecutor Chen Jui-jen who indicted the first lady has been assigned to investigate, were Vice President Annette Lu, Premier Su Tseng-chang, DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun, President Chen’s secretary-general Chen Tang Sun, and former Premier Frank Hsieh.
Lu was magistrate of Taoyuan before her election as vice president in 2000. Hsieh was mayor of Kaohsiung from 1998 to 2004. Yu, Su and Chen Tang Sun were former magistrates of Yilan, Taipei, and Tainan.
None of them can be easily cleared. Half of the expense account can be written off without receipts and bills as proof. The other half needs to be justified.
Ma is charged with remitting the half that needs no proof to his personal account, which grew by an average of NT$300,000 a month since he assumed office as mayor of Taipei in 1998.
He admitted that his assistant used “wrong” receipts to write off NT$800,000 from his expense account. That was a clerical mistake. Nobody pocketed the money, he insisted.
Some DPP leaders know how serious the threat to the integrity of the five of them now under investigation is.
That is why Lin Cho-shui, who resigned as DPP lawmaker at large Monday, urged restraint from a new wave of attacks on Ma and other Kuomintang public office holders.
Should more attacks take place, “everybody would lose,” Lin said. Attacks breed counterattacks, and there will be no end to the increasingly fierce struggle between the two political camps.
Hsieh, the DPP candidate for mayor of Taipei, described Ma’s involvement in the expense account misuse as “kicking dust that hurt his own eyes” but warned against the party leaders “getting elated” over the success of their counterattack.
James Soong, chairman of the People First Party “on leave” to run as an independent, is concerned about his old “embezzlement” scandal being talked about again.
He is cautioning the DPP leaders not to continue attacking Ma in an attempt to protect the beleaguered president.
All high public office holders, regardless of their political party affiliation, are afraid they may be the next targets of Taiwan’s reborn McCarthyists.
Taiwan will wind up in political chaos, if parties do not put an end to their muck-raking against each other in time, observers believe.
“When nobody feels safe from reckless charges of corruption,” a political analyst said, “how can the government operate normally?”
But observers are pessimistic about Taiwan’s political future.
With legislative elections scheduled for the end of next year and the presidential race for the spring of 2008, the frenzy whipped up by the anti-corruption McCarthyism cannot be wished away.[/quote]