First Lady Indicted! President should resign.

I’ve been somewhat lukewarm in favor of the ROC President resigning in the past, and have even participated in one of the protest marches. But today’s news is huge, and has pushed me right into the ‘Resign Now, You Punk’ (RNYP) category.

For those who haven’t been paying attention to Taiwan politics lately, here’s a rough capsule history of the scandals involving close associates of President Chen:

One of the President’s close advisors and former deputy secretary in the presidential office Chen Che-Nan was caught in an influence peddling scandal and is currently being prosecuted for corruption and insider trading.

The First Lady Wu Shu-Chen was suspected of receiving gift certificates for the Sogo department store in exchange for influence peddling in a company takeover. About a month ago the prosecuters in the case dropped the case due to lack of evidence. There was much rejoicing amongst the President’s supporters about this. However, the investigation did prove that the first lady had received Sogo gift certificates but they couldn’t prove where they came from, and the dollar amount they could prove was determined too low to constitute a bribe. So she didn’t completely get off clean on this one.

The President’s son-in-law Chao Chien-Ming and Chao’s father were found to be involved in an insider trading case and are now being indicted for corruption and insider trading.

And for several months now it has been alleged that President Chen and First Lady Wu submitted other people’s invoices as their own for reimbursement by the government as state expenses. Today prosecutors announced that the First Lady and three of President Chen’s staff are to be prosecuted for corruption for embezzling at least TW$14.8 million (about US$450,000) by submitting other people’s invoices as state expenses.

In addition, prosecuters said that they had sufficient evidence to charge the President. Just one little problem: A sitting president cannot be charged with any crime while in office (though he could be prosecuted for crimes committed in office once he has left).

I think it’s about time Chen faces up to things and resigns.

Unfortunately the political opposition went off half-cocked and tried to recall the president twice when there wasn’t definitive evidence of his direct involvement in any of the scandals. Now would be the time to put forth a recall proposal, but they are in a kind of ‘boy who cried wolf’ situation now where a third attempt can’t help but come off as a bit lame. Also the previous recall motions have worked to solidify the President’s supporters. I’m sure some of them are starting to lose faith now, but it’s harder to switch positions now.

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