Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ex-Pres in Jail

I'll avoid another 9/11 post, I've posted last year and in the 8 years since it's happened I've thought a lot about it. There's not much to say that I haven't already said.
However yesterday some big news happened in Taiwan. The ex-president of Taiwan was sentenced to life in prison. A monumental and politically ground-breaking event. One wonders how many other former presidents (from Democratically elected nations) are currently in jail. One can't help but to imagine what it'd be like had Richard Nixon not been pardoned, or Dick Cheney prosecuted and convicted for his stance on torture. I'm sure there would be a lot of people happy had both of those crooks been sentenced to long prison terms, (I can only speak about my feelings about Cheney, but I hope if I was around in the mid-seventies I'd be calling for Nixon's conviction). Personally I would be happy to see Cheney convicted for his stance and sanctioning of torture...but I realize American Courts would never allow that to happen; even though one could argue that Cheney's crimes are far worse than former President Chen's....

But nonetheless, convicting the former president has tremendous ramifications for a place with such a tenuous international standing as Taiwan. Not only did they convict him but gave him life in prison. The blowback from this may be pretty serious, causing a serious splintering of the already divided electorate....or it may open the way for China to continue to exert influence over Taiwan. Also there are claims of unfair treatment and even of human rights violations while the former president was in jail. Either way sentencing a former president to life in jail for embezzlement seems a bit harsh. What message does this send to Taiwan's few remaining supporters? Does it bolster China's standing? Will it ultimately lead to an archaic one-party KMT rule in Taiwan? Like the one that was in place for the last 50 years here?

time will tell...This article in the Economist presents a good summary and insight into the problems of convicting a former head of state...


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