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.

An Anniversary

Excerpts from my e-mail five years ago.

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 12:20:03 -0700
From: Wilbert Lick
To: James Lick

Hi Jim,

You’ve probably heard the news by now about the plane crashes, the world trade center, etc. Well, I was in Vermont and Boston this weekend and Monday. I had reservations on United 175 from Boston to Los Angeles at 8:00 on Tuesday morning. On Monday afternoon, I changed reservations and flew out Monday evening. If I had kept my reservations, I would now be underneath the world trade center. I’m in somewhat of a shock right now.

Anyway, hope to see you soon.


Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 23:20:25 GMT
From: United Airlines
To: James Lick

UA 0844 TPE-SFO on Sep 13 is cancelled

Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 12:34:42 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Rick Lilly

Currently I’ve been rebooked on the Monday flight, which means I will miss your special celebration. If flights resume, I may be able to get out on standby, but given that flights have been shut down so long, getting on is very doubtful. If I am unable to make it, please accept my regrets and congratulations.

Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 21:56:17 GMT
From: United Airlines
To: James Lick

UA 0844 TPE-SFO on Sep 14 is cancelled

Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 08:56:59 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Rick Lilly

I’m trying to fly standby today. Will know if a couple of hours.

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 03:18:02 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Wilbert Lick

I made it!

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 04:11:24 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Zorch Offtopic List

Within minutes of the first attack, all the news channels in Taiwan had live coverage of the wtc tower one on fire. I was just getting home and had glanced over at the TV when the second plane crashed into tower two.

Everyone was in shock. We couldn’t believe it was a plane that crashed until they showed it again. The next two hours we watched in horror as one disaster after another unfolded.

I tried calling home but all the international lines were busy.

I found out later that my dad had a reservation on United 175, the second plane to crash. Fortunately his meeting had ended early and he had flown out the night before instead, and he was able to get an email out to me saying he was fine, but in shock.

Even though he was fine, this was more than I could take. I sat sobbing for about half an hour just from the intense emotion of it all. I lost my mother in July after a battle with Pick’s Disease and to come so close to losing both parents in such a short time was an unbearable thought. This entire year has been extremely stressful for me for a variety of other reasons as well.

I had a ticket back to SFO on Thursday. I finally got out Saturday morning and just got home in Santa Clara a couple of hours ago. They had 3 pages of stand-by passengers by the time I got there. Even so, it looks like most people stayed away and all the standby passengers made it on. I even got an upgrade.

Security was extremely tight in Taipei. Checked in bags were hand searched and x-rayed during check-in. At the normal security checkpoint, x-rays of carry-ons were more thorough, and there was a brand new hi-tech x-ray machine being set up. At the gate, carry-on bags were searched, and each person swept with a wand-style metal detector. At boarding time, passports and tickets were checked to ensure matches.

Coming in at SFO, it didn’t look like a whole lot of flights were arriving yet, with very few people in the terminals. At check-in there were mobs of people in line but it looked like most weren’t going anywhere. At the rental center, there was hardly anyone around. Hertz has a big board
listing the names and car locations for Hertz Gold members which probably has space for ~300 names and is usually 2/3 full. Today there were only 10 names on the board. On the good side, the upgraded me from economy to full size, presumably due to the lack of business.

At least I made it back for my friend’s wedding on Sunday. Some of their guests from Phoenix aren’t able to get a flight though.

It’s been a rough week.

Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2001 15:57:07 -0700
From: Wilbert Lick
To: James Lick

Hi Jim,

Since I haven’t heard anything, I assume your trip back to Taipei was ok. In this morning’s paper, I saw that Taiwan got hit by another typhoon. Was there much damage? How is Maggie’s shop, etc.?


Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 10:28:57 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Wilbert Lick

Typhoon Lekima struck southern Taiwan. In the north we have had some heavy rain, but fortunately not much in the way of flooding. The plane ride in was a bit bumpy, but not too bad.

Lekima is currently making it’s way in a northwest direction across the southern part of Taiwan and is expected to start out across the Taiwan Strait tonight. The rim of the storm is still expected to give us some heavy rain throughout the island through Friday night or Saturday morning.

The ground floor of Maggie’s shop is all cleaned out now from Typhoon Nari. The water was about 1.5′ deep on the ground level. The basement is still drying out. It has some wood laminate flooring which we are wondering will survive or not. On the other side of the building’s
basement, an entire wall collapsed along a 40 foot stretch, and one of the doors was blown off its hinges by the force of the flooding. Fortunately the wall was not a load bearing one. Except for the flooring and some trim, most of the basement on the side of Maggie’s shop is masonry and needs at most a good drying out and a repainting.

Maggie’s home is slightly downslope, and had water about 5 to 6 feet deep. Fortunately it didn’t rise enough to inundate the second floor.


So, my Dad was supposed to come this week but he got a pacemaker installed last Friday so he’s postponing it a couple of weeks.

Monday afternoon I went down to Gaoxiong for APNIC22’s spam tutorial session. I arrived in the evening and hit the Liuhe Night Market for two bowls of Fried Fish Soup before heading over to the Grand Hi-Lai Hotel to check in. Tuesday was spent all day in the spam session where I gave an update on the spam status in Taiwan at the end. Also met several people from Taiwan working on the spam problem, so that’s nice. Then back to Liuhe Night Market for two more bowls of Fried Fish Soup and also ordered two bowls to take home with me. Got back home Tuesday night around 11:30.

Usually as a speaker the conference provides free registration. This time TWNIC and APNIC also paid for my hotel room, bus fare, breakfast, and lunch. I’d be a lot happier going around giving these spam talks if my expenses were covered like this all the time.

I’ve been neglecting to read my friends’ blogs lately. I’d been trying to catch up, but I was almost 300 posts in the hole, so I’ve just binned all the old articles and will start from scratch now. I’ve decided to use NewsGator for my RSS reader now. It’s an online service read through a web browser so I don’t need to worry about keeping my desktop and laptop in sync. I understand Bloglines does much the same thing and is more popular, but I’ve already gotten accustomed to NewsGator.

Ooh… Scary!

From the US Embassy American Institute in Taiwan:

A number of political demonstrations are scheduled to take place in
Taipei and Kaohsiung in the coming week. The American Institute in
Taiwan urges all U.S. citizens in Taiwan to exercise caution and to
avoid large political gatherings. Even protests intended to be
peaceful can quickly turn into confrontational situations. While
there is no indication that demonstrations will turn violent or that
American citizens or foreigners would be the target of any political
violence, U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad should exercise
good personal security awareness including maintaining a low profile
and avoiding areas where large gatherings/demonstrations may occur.

Tainan and etc.

We actually didn’t make it to Gaoxiong at all. The first went down to the old Chikan fort in central Tainan to look around. I’d been there before but it’s still neat to look around. While we were there, there were some military fighter jets doing some training overhead and I managed to get a couple decent photos as they flew over. The Japanese sidewalk restaurant we were supposed to go to on Friday night was across the street and though we thought it was only open for dinner, it was just opening up when we left the fort, so Maggie and Emily and I ate lunch there while the rest went elsewhere nearby.

Bonita and Ilona had bought return bus tickets for 2:50pm but they decided to stay rather than go after all, so Elly and my mother-in-law used those tickets instead. The rest of us went to the other old fort in Tainan, Anping fort which is near the waterfront. First Emily took a ride on a small train set a vendor had set up, while I watched and the others looked around the market outside.

I decided not to go into the fort as I’d been there too and wasn’t as interested in going again, so Maggie and Emily and I set out to find someplace to sit and wait for them. We saw a guy carrying two large lizards who was soliciting people to take pictures with them. He took an interest in Emily and when he heard she wanted a cracker to eat he darted off to a nearby stand to help her buy some crab flavored crisps. Then we walked out to the main road and Emily saw a guy selling fresh squeezed orange juice and wanted to get some. She’s getting so she can buy things herself now.

(In Taiwan it is common to have trucks parked by the side of the road selling produce. For orange juice you’ll see a truck piled high with oranges and there will be a guy at the side of the truck cutting up oranges and tossing them into a mechanical juice press and bottling the results. It’s really amazing how good real fresh squeezed orange juice is.)

I asked the juice guy where the beach was but the answer was a bit too complex so Maggie talked to him in Taiwanese for a bit. The developed beach area was a few kilometers away so we set off to get a taxi to take us. In Taipei you can just about go out to the curb and flag a taxi down in less than a minute most of the time, but in Tainan there’s not as many taxis around. We eventually got one and set out.

When we got to the entrance of the beach area Maggie noticed a famous restaurant called the Five Cent Driftwood House across the street, so we went in there to chill out for a few hours having tea and beer and snacks. The restaurant was made out of various random pieces of wood logs and was pretty inventively put together. In any case, it was a nice cool air conditioned place to kick back.

Ilona and Bonita joined up with us and after they had their rest we headed back to the previous night’s Fried Fish Soup restaurant (on Hai An Road near Bao An Road, for the next time you’re in Tainan) where I wolfed down two bowls of soup for dinner. Then we headed off to the bus station to buy our return tickets. The tickets we got were for about an hour and a half later so we headed to a nearby park for a while where Emily spent a lot of time playing on the playground.

We left around 7:45pm and got back home around 12:30am.

This week I’ve ordered the local equipment and signed a contract for construction. I also went and talked with S.P., another American who has opened up two Subway shops in Taipei, and who was able to give me a lot of good advice. He was given as a reference by the construction guy I chose, and I had intended to just ask him about that, but he ended up chatting with me for almost an hour and a half about lots of good things to know about the business.

On funny thing happened to me when I was in the Landis Hotel bakery yesterday. My conversation went something like this:


This apparently delighted one of the other customers who said my Chinese sounded very good. My Chinese isn’t actually that good, but since I buy a lot of french bread, that conversation is pretty much down pat. She then proceeded to ask if I know any Taiwanese and said I don’t, which is mostly true, so she tried to teach me some. When she was doing this I surprised her by throwing in a couple of Taiwanese words that I do know. I really don’t know Taiwanese but I do know stuff like “sorry”, “it’s nothing”, “unbelievable”, “i don’t want”, “i’m full” and “crab”. (“crab” sounds like Jim in Taiwanese so I get teased about that sometime.) Anyways, it was kinda fun.

The only other interesting occurrence this week was another earthquake, this time a 5.7 in the middle of the night. Felt like someone bumped into my bed:

2006-04-05 03:30:00 M 5.7 24.42N 122.74E, i.e. 107.8 km ESE of Yilan City #034 (0405033057034)

I’m still waiting for the damn insurance policy. It was supposed to be done today.