Taiwan: Response to Ex-President's Life Sentence

On September 11, Taiwan's former President Chen Sui-Bian was sentenced to life imprisonment and a NTD 200 million fine (roughly USD 6.13 million) on charges of embezzlement, taking bribes and money laundering. Chen's wife Wu Shu-jen also received a life sentence while their son Chen Chih-chung and daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching received sentences ranging from 20-30 months for money laundering. Other relatives received suspended sentences. Two former advisers were given sentences of 16 and 20 years imprisonment. See Taiwan news for more detail on Chen family's corruption charge and sentence.

The GV Chinese lingua team invited twitterers to comment on the case and use hashtag “#abian911” to mark the tweets that they recommend to be featured in GV. The opinions are rather diverse.

Twitterers from Taiwan tended to doubt if the sentence is justified. HOW from Taiwan:

[murmur] 阿扁判無期徒刑…但為什麼性犯罪者可以假釋。我恨透他貪汙,但司法也不能這樣搞啊,比例原則在哪裡啊!(認為我政治狂上身可以盡量remove我沒關 係)

Abian got life sentence…but why sex criminals can have conditional release, (but he can't?). I hate his corruption, but justice cannot play it this way. Where is the principle of proportionality!

pipperl from Taiwan:

扁案這簡直是抄家,以後所有被告也要比照辦理嗎? #abian911

The case of Chen is simply a family purge. Is this going to be a model for other politicians?

judie35 from Taiwan:

扁案一審的判決充滿政治報復意味,讓人無法接受。此種做法不是伸張正義,而是逼台灣社會對立分裂繼續深化。扁非無辜,但過重的懲罰反而會使法院失去正當性,讓人同情他、甚至尊他為殉道英雄。 #abian911

The sentence of the first trial of Chen's case smells completely like political avenge, and that is not acceptable. This is not justice, instead, it forces Taiwan society to continue its antagonism and disunion. Chen is not innocent, but the over-weighted punishment is making the court lose its legitimacy, which in return lets people feel sympathy for him or even regard him as a hero who die for his country. #abian911

traaworld from Taiwan RT @thecarol: RT @Lydia618: RT: @4F:

你們不要傻傻的,以為謀財貪污已經走了。謀財貪污一直都在,謀最多貪最大的一直都在打人喊救人。#(真的,這才是笑點所在) #abian911

Don't be fooled to believe that corruption is gone. Corruption is always here, and the most corrupted are always accusing others as corrupted. #(Yeah, this is the point) #abain911

traaworld from Taiwan RT @lianyue from China:

终生监禁的两种表述方法:陈水扁无期;共产党万岁。 #abian911

Two expressions for “In jail for life”: Chen Sui-Bian's life sentence and Long live CCP.

Octw is quite an exceptional Taiwanese view who believes that justice has been served:

正義。所有犯罪的人都應該追繳犯罪所得。希望這是一個永恆的判例。 #abian911

Justice. All the illegal earnings of criminals should be pursued and returned. I hope this is an eternal prejudication. #abian911

While among twitterers from China, the fact that an ex-political leader received life sentence is quite unimaginable. gudidi from China:


Chen's life is full of ebbs and flows…just like a sophisticated drama! #abian911

TONG from China cites lianyue's tweet:

#abian911 民主的台湾,阿扁无期;专制的大陆,人民无期。

Democratic Taiwan leads to Abian's life sentence; Aristocratic Mainland China leads to all citizens’ life sentence.

ismaelan, a Chinese Muslim:

重判一个具有族群象征意义的台湾人,更让人加深了对国民党治国无能、内斗有方的恶劣历史印象. #abian911

Heavily punishing a token of ethnic Taiwanese adds more on the evil impression on KMT's inability to run the country and the ability to battle against interior enemy. #abian911

As for the Taiwan English-speaking twitter circle, it seems that most of the opinions simply do not trust the ruling party KMT and some accuse the Beijing government for operating behind the scene in Chen's sentence. The following tweets are selected by GV author David Reid:

Tortue: You know that I don't keep SCB (Chen Shui-Bian) and DPP in my heart but I don't think that a life sentence here was really appropriate…

TimMaddog: Taiwan's former President Chen Shui-bian and his wife Wu Shu-jen just sentenced to life imprisonment. Fuck this Ma Ying-jeou government!

vshchen: I hope most Taiwanese are smart enough to see how KMT is trampling on Taiwan's justice.

I wouldn't be surprised if Chen Shui-bian were sentenced to death by KMT's court. It's already very obvious that KMT want Chen to die.

jgdeutsch: A life sentence for Chen Shui-bian? This seems a bit extreme, even for a regime that's kissing up to the CCP. http://ow.ly/oWh1 [link to BBC news article]

JuleSuga @vshchen Hope now more ppl will wake up & see KMT's true colours. Chen will come out one day & lead us to build our own country.

David also suggested an article from The Far-Eastern Sweet Potato, who believed that the life sentence is to please Beijing government:

Chen was a flawed leader. But he is being sacrificed by a regime that cannot help but bend over backwards to please Beijing. As he and his wife face life behind bars, Beijing has successfully split Taiwanese Aborigines while dealing as death blow to the only opposition party in Taiwan that make the country worthy of being called a democracy……….

I certainly do not wish a 9/11 I Taiwan, or anything resembling a Cuban Revolution. But if the voice of the people continues to be ignored like this, and if Beijing continues to succeed in its plan to annex Taiwan one voice at a time, I fear that nothing less will be necessary.


  • CC

    Whether Chen Shui-bian broke the law is irrelevant at this point as the process of criminal procedure during discovery was so politically tainted with a preordained goal, it puts the rest of society at risk.

    I would rather one hundred guilty Chen Shui-bians go free than allow the state to maintain a biased and flawed system of law that could successfully persecute one innocent citizen on political grounds. The

    The system was on trial and and failed. Now all Taiwan will serve the sentence.

  • gerard

    Is there any examples of a democratic country given such harsh punishment to a whole presidential family or is this chinese-style democracy?

  • Depending on which way you look at it, it’s either a classic manifesto of judiciary independence or a public revenge on a political enemy. But unless there is clear and material evidence (vs. mere speculation) as to how the law and judiciary procedure are compromised in Mr Chen and his family’s trial, it is not going to convince anyone in Mr Chen’s favour.

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