Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Arrested Development

It's been an exciting week in politics, and no, I'm not talking about the recent U.S. election. I'm also not talking about Arrested Development, that most awesome of awesome sitcoms.

Chen Shui-bian, former president of Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was detained today for alleged corruption. Last week, DPP protesters stormed Taipei to express their displeasure over the arrival of the Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin, chairman of The Association for Relations Across the Straits. And for good measure, I should probably mention that protesters also mobbed the vice-chairman of this association at Tainan's Confucius Temple on October 21.

Here are the images I associate with each event (these are especially important since television news goes too quickly for my poor listening comprehension):

November 11: Chen Shui-bian holds his handcuffed arms up in victory as the police lead him away.
November 6: EMTs carry away a woman who has fainted in the midst of the angry, violent mob. It's night, and lots of people wear long, yellow ribbons that say "Taiwan is my country." The ribbons look like they're made of the same plastic as garbage bags or caution tape.
October 21: Daytime--a small crowd of people pushes down the vice-chairman. Then one of them (I think he's wearing green) jumps on top of the envoy's fancy black car. He stomps around, leaving wide, shallow dents on the roof.

I could have sworn that Chen was already found guilty of corruption, but since the media here is unabashedly partisan, I'm afraid that I've been swayed by my father's political persuasion in believing that he's embezzled 14.8 million NTD (that's $480,500 US). The BBC keeps saying "alleged charges," so I guess I'm wrong.

Here's where I get confused--the BBC has printed the following quotation from Chen:

"The KMT and the Chinese Communist Party see me as their number one prisoner as I am the biggest stone blocking their way to reunification," Mr Chen told reporters, according to the French news agency AFP.

He said the Chinese envoy, Chen Yunlin, "had a bad time in Taiwan... so Ma Ying-jeou wants to put me in jail as a sacrifice to appease China. I am very honoured and proud to play such a role."

Initially, I felt like Chen was just manipulating people's Sino-phobic emotions, but that was before I realized the charges were alleged and not proven. So what if he's not guilty? Is he really President Ma's sacrifice to appease China? To be honest, I still feel like Chen is playing the spin game, but is that my bias talking?

Only time will tell. Until then, I'll be in a perpetual state of second-guessing.

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