Chen Shui-bian holds first rally in N. Taiwan

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — After bringing his grievances and legal troubles to supporters in central and southern Taiwan, former President Chen Shui-bian attended a similar gathering in Taipei County yesterday, the first time such a rally has been held in northern Taiwan. Chen was charged with alleged embezzlement of public funds by using other people’s invoices and receipts to reclaim the “state affairs fee” entitled to the president for public functions. His wife Wu Shu-chen and several aides are still under trial in the same case.

He and his family are also under investigation for possible money laundering after a world anti-money laundering organization found they have remitted huge amounts of money abroad. Chen has already made public apologies. Both he and his wife have withdrawn their memberships from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

He attended the rally in Sanchung City, Taipei County organized by DPP lawmaker Yu Tian, a singer-turned-politician who now holds the only DPP legislative seat in the Greater Taipei area. While most DPP members and supporters have felt disenchanted with Chen’s performance over the past eight years and have distanced themselves from him, Chen has been seeking out some diehard supporters to relive past glorious days. Claiming he never embezzled a penny, Chen told the estimated 1,000 supporters that he is a victim of judicial persecution under the new government. Using his customary tactic of dividing the people, he urged the crowd not to let others “bully the Taiwanese.”

Chen criticized President Ma Ying-jeou for his submission to China. He asked the crowd to oppose the forthcoming visit of Chen Yunlin, chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARAT), who is set to make a landmark visit to Taipei next month. He urged the crowd to boycott the visit of the Chinese official, who is expected to push ahead major agreements to promote relations across the Taiwan Strait with his counterpart P.K. Chiang, who is chairman of the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation.

The crowd shouted slogans like “Long Live Taiwanese People!” A man in the crowd questioned Chen why his money ended up in the overseas bank accounts of his son, he was immediately beaten and chased out. It was no coincidence that incumbent DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen took a trip to southern Pingtung County — so that she would not have to stay in Taipei to make the difficult choice of whether to attending Chen’s rally.

In his previous speeches to crowds in central and southern Taiwan, Chen urged the people, the DPP, and Chairwoman Tsai to “harden up” against the Ma administration by taking to the streets. Tsai showed no obvious enthusiasm for Chen’s proposal. Chen has repeatedly refused to appear before the DPP’s anti-corruption commission, which has been conducting a special inquiry into cases involving him. The panel had planned to help Chen wage the legal battle if he could prove he is innocent. None of the Chen family have so far given consent to prosecutors for authorization to look into their bank accounts.