"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Friday, December 03, 2004

Who put the "bullet" in "Bulletgate"?

Bang! Bang! They're not dead! "Boo hoo! Unfair!"
On March 19, 2004, as Taiwan's incumbent president Chen Shui-bian and running mate Annette Lu were campaigning in an open jeep in Chen's hometown of Tainan, they were both struck by bullets, fired at a low velocity amidst a veritable sea of exploding firecrackers and bottle rockets. It is said that Chen initially thought he had been struck by a firecracker. The Vice-President suffered only a slight graze to the right knee, but the President received an 11 centimeter gash across his belly. Neither of their wounds was life-threatening, and late that evening, Chen and Lu made videotaped statements on television in order to assure the public that they were safe and to urge everyone to remain calm.

That same day, The DPP stopped all campaigning activities, as did Lien and Soong, according to the KMT's own web site:
Following the shooting, Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cancelled all campaign rallies planned for that evening. The opposition did likewise to show concern for the President.
"Concern" seems like a very strange word for the KMT to be using toward Chen Shui-bian considering their attitude both before and since the shooting.

So far, the person or persons who fired the bullets that hit Chen and Lu haven't been caught. Whose hand pulled the trigger, and was there someone pulling their strings? Finding these people will provide lots of answers, but until that time we can only go by the available evidence.

Remember this, and do not forget it
The evening of the shooting, Lien Chan also made a statement which speaks volumes in retrospect:
"It's impossible for just one violent act (the assassination attempt on Chen Shui-bian and his V-P Annette Lu) to affect our election. [Emphasis mine]"
I'm told that the same day, Lien was already making accusations that the shooting was "staged." Although I don't have any links on hand to verify this, I heard with my own ears his crony Sisy Chen doing just that sometime around midnight that night. Of course, after losing, Lien would repeatedly blame this very event for his defeat.

On election day, there was a voter turnout of 80.28 percent. That evening, as election results were being reported on television news, all of the pan-blue stations were reporting that Lien and Soong were in the lead, despite no two channels reporting the same figures. Only Formosa Television (FTV) and Public Television Service (PTS) were reporting Chen and Lu in the lead. I'm also told that CTI News (Channel 41) had reported totals amounting to 1,000,000 more votes than the Central Election Commission was reporting at the time. (Sorry, no link yet, but my own observations at the time showed CTI to be exaggerating more than any other station.)

However, when the final results came in, Chen and Lu had won the election by a very slight margin, greatly shocking pan-blue supporters who had been watching the figures provided by their untrustworthy pan-blue media.

Never mind that the pan-blue media surveys reported Lien in the lead prior to the 2000 election in which he came in third out of the three main candidates!

It seems that their "1 + 1" in 2000 [their combined total that year was 58%] didn't add up to "2" in 2004 [in a 2-way race, it was only 49.8%.].

Despite the fact that the KMT is (or at least was) the world's richest political party and that they had been crying "unfair" since even before the shooting, the pan-blues suddenly claimed their loss was directly attributable to the shooting and the referendum which was held simultaneously with the presidential election.

Ridiculous! Although this was the first time for Taiwan, referenda are held alongside elections all the time in other countries. Taiwan's referendum law was even passed by the pan-blues and written in a way to try to restrict Chen Shui-bian from doing anything that would run counter to the pan-blues' agenda, yet he found a way around the restrictions, and that really irked them.

Everything I know about losing, I learned in kindergarten, but subsequently forgot when I majored in political science
In what should have been a polite concession speech, Lien Chan -- after having just told his supporters to stay calm -- began crying that the election was "unfair" and that it should be declared "invalid" because of the shooting. Remember, this was one day after saying that the incident would not affect the election.

Here's what the law has to say about canceling an election (not that it would mean anything to the pan-blues):
Article 29
After the deadline of Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate registration and before the balloting day, if any of the Presidential candidates dies, the Central Election Commission shall proclaim the election activities quit [i.e., call off the election] and fix another date for a new election.

If the election is proclaimed quit [i.e., called off], a certificate of completion of a joint signature campaign obtained before the cessation of the election shall still be valid for the new election.
[Bracketed comments mine. Found via this page.]
The pan-blues' rabble-rousing immediately led to riots by pan-blue supporters in Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung. The riots in Taipei happened four weekends in a row after the election, despite the president agreeing fearlessly to a recount, offering to meet with Lien and Soong, and doing everything possible within legal limits. Yet all the while, he was repeatedly referred to as a "dictator" by the sore losers.

Maybe we should try something different
The pan-blues didn't gain any ground with their riots, so they took their fight overseas. The "Bulletgate" pamphlet was produced in June 2004 and distributed to members of US Congress. A letter accompanying the pamphlet was signed by Jason Yuan of the KMT-PFP Representative Office in Washington, with his name prefaced by the title "Ambassador," despite the fact that Yuan no longer holds that title.

It ought to be called "Bullshitgate"
"Bulletgate" is chock full of distortions, conspiracy theories, and demonstrable lies. In the coming days, I will shoot it down -- bit by bit -- with verifiable facts and logically derived conclusions.

NEXT UP: Enough of the wordy introductions! Let's see the lurid content!
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