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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Writer of letters threatening Chen Shui-bian and others is caught

Bluer than blue, badder than bad

Wednesday's Liberty Times (自由時報) had a headline story which their sister paper, the Taipei Times somehow missed [following translations by Tim Maddog]:
恐嚇總統、官員、立委、主播 前調查員落網

Former investigator who threatened the president, public officials, legislators, and commentators caught in dragnet


(Reporters Huang Tun-yan, Chiu Yan-ling, Yang Kuo-wen [spelling of all names guessed phonetically] / Taipei) Last week, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) received threats in a "New Year greeting card" telling him to beware of two bullets, that his daughter Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤) would be raped, and that his grandson Chao Yi-an (趙翊安) would be kidnapped. Yesterday [Tuesday], police in Taipei County's Chungho City arrested former investigator Yang Ching-hai (楊清海), based upon his handwriting and the batch numbers on the bullets. Beginning in November of 2005, the suspect mailed bullets as a threat to then-premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), signing his letter at "Secretary-General of the Black Collective." He also sent threatening letters to other elected representatives, officials, commentators, and others, and so far, he is suspected of involvement in at least 30 cases.
30 cases! It's about time they caught this guy.

What comes around goes around
The words "Black Collective" (黑合會) mentioned above are a variation of the word "triad" (三合會), with the word for "three" replaced with the Mandarin word for "black," representing here the underworld of criminal gangs, the Mafia, etc. I found one article in the Taipei Times which refers to this "group" simply as the "Heiho Association." The connection there is that the writer of the threatening letters containing bullets said that the recipients would end up like Taipei County councilor Wu Shan-jeou (吳善九) of the People First Party (PFP), who was shot dead in his office on May 23, 2007. According to the aforementioned article, "Wu had also received a threatening letter containing a bullet."

According to information I've heard elsewhere, Yang is suspected of having mailed bullets to some people -- such as Talking Show (大話新聞) host Cheng Hung-yi (鄭弘儀) -- because they were "pro Taiwan independence," and of mailing bullets to people like former legislator Li Ao (李敖) because they were "too weak." Does this make him "neither blue nor green"? Perhaps he'd be better described as "bluer than blue."

A look at his past
A search of the Taipei Times for Yang's name brings up this single news item from 1999:
Playing secretly recorded tapes through loud speakers and making accusations in front of a curious crowd, a Buddhist nun who claimed to have been raped by a respected elderly monk yesterday turned what was supposed to be a solemn religious ceremony into a fiasco, with loudspeakers playing what can only be regarded as decidedly secular content.

The monk, known as Master Juhsu (如虛), had planned to preside at a ceremony at a Taipei monastery yesterday, but failed to show up to avoid "disturbances."

In the absence of the master, Miaowen (妙文) -- the nun making the accusations -- demanded that Juhsu take off his cassock and apologize to her for what she said was his alleged sexual offenses against her. Miaowen has filed charges of rape against Juhsu, who was her master 12 years ago at a Buddhist temple in Taichung, central Taiwan.

The 40-year-old nun claimed to have spoken to four other nuns who said they had been sexually assaulted by the same man.

Miaowen and dozens of her sympathizers, before hearing of his decision to stay away, had expected to confront Juhsu during the hand-over ceremony, and brought with them loud speakers and banners.


Miaowen's spokesman, Yang Ching-hai (楊清海), a former agent of the Investigation Bureau, said he had checked the authenticity of the tapes before he promised to help Miaowen, after hearing suggestions that they had been tampered with.

Yang admitted that Miaowen had planned what she wanted from the conversation, prior to the call with Juhsu, which she recorded without him knowing it.

"According to my own judgement on the basis of evidence provided by Miaowen, I think she is telling the truth," Yang said.
Very disturbing. I hope to learn much more about this Yang character in the very near future.

UPDATE: The suspect and his girlfriend have both been released on NT$100,000 bail. WTF?! Keep your eyes open for another "fled to China" story real soon.

Pieces of the puzzle: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Cries of "Wolf!" heard all over Taiwan

Doin' my bes' to round up the mess

I have had neither the time nor the energy to write a post with as many links as I'd like, so bear with me as I round up some recent events that are on my mind and add comments before they get drowned out by newer events. I hope to add more links as I find them.

Who "raised the specter" of "martial law"?
On November 22, 2007, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Kuo Su-chun (郭素春), spouting nonsense in her usual style, said that Taiwan's democratically-elected president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) would use the 18 pan-blue-led counties' refusal to follow the Central Election Commission's single-step ballot distribution procedure as an excuse to "declare martial law." Talking Show (大話新聞) subsequently discussed whether Chen would use it or not. Days later, Chen said that people had made several suggestions about how to deal with the situation and that he would examine all possibilities.

Then came the veritable torrent of BS.

All of the "news" media in Taiwan, including the Taipei Times, twisted Chen's words to make it look like Chen had threatened to impose martial law when he had done no such thing. The English-language China Post had it on their front page -- surprisingly with a less sensational headline than the Taipei Times.

Subsequent to the fallacious reports, President Chen reassured the public that he would not declare martial law (WMV files; see the beginning of Part 5), but by that time, the distortion machine had done the dastardly deed, and far too many felt that they were obligated to admonish Chen -- all for something he hadn't done.

Rule Number 1: Remember the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," and if the allegation looks as implausible as this one did, go with your instincts, and don't repeat the accusation until you see the evidence with your own eyes, hear it with your own ears, and feel it with your own fingers. And even then, you might want to think twice.

Don't put one iota of trust in the KMT
The KMT recently aired a mostly black-and-white commercial featuring several people who expressed extreme disgust with the DPP government. The people in the commercial were portrayed as being "poor average citizens," but if you remember Rule Number 1 above, you would have had the same suspicions as I did: that none of these people was "an average Chou." The ad ends with the incredibly ironic warning: "Don't trust the DPP."

It didn't take long for my suspicions to be verified. As of November 5, 2007, it has been discovered that at least five of the people appearing in the 30-second commercial are, in fact, KMT workers. While some of them do indeed do the jobs they claim in the commercial to do, at least one who portrayed himself as a low-salaried employee (侯先生, or Mr. Hou) was discovered to be the boss. Breakfast-store owner Fang Hua-hsiung (方華雄 ) claimed he would "go broke and die," yet his business was bustling. Another of the commercial's crybabies who worried about "not being able to survive" is still driving his Benz seven years into a DPP presidency. The humanity!

Rule Number 2: When somebody with a Benz cries about "not being able to survive," what they mean is that even if everybody in Taiwan could have a free mid-price-range vehicle, he'd still cry about it for as long as there was a DPP president.

Proposed 228 law
A bill seeking justice for the infamous "228 Massacre" of 1947 that was brought up by the DPP several months ago and subsequently squashed by the opposition was suddenly front-page news a few days ago. The headlines practically screeched that the DPP sought to hold even distant relatives of those accused of crimes related to 228 to be held accountable for the crimes if the accused was deceased (or perhaps even if not). Again, even the Taipei Times did the wrong thing with this one.

Refer to Rule Number 1 again. What those front-page headlines said was the exact opposite of the truth.

The bill was written with a spirit of reconciliation in mind (something the KMT seems to know nothing about), and gave these relatives the right to defend the names of their relatives. I'm not sure if it requested their assistance in bringing facts to light, but it most certainly did not seek to punish them.

He's not a cop, but he played one on TV
Just two days ago (Dec. 5), a young man wearing a fake police uniform wa grabbed by authentic police during protests outside of the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall by people opposed to the removal of the 大中至正 inscription at the entrance to the plaza. As he was being moved by the police, the faker screeched in a manner similar to the actors in the 這個不是肯得雞 ("This isn't KFC!") commercials [KFC1, KFC2, KFC3] that he "didn't know" (something). A reporter who was befuddled by the overreaction asked if he was drunk, and he replied with something that was bleeped when aired on the news. However, the reporting -- even by FTV -- highlighted one police officer who was seen briefly pulling the suspect's hair as that officer and several of his colleagues attempted to remove the suspect from the scene. That was certainly not good behavior on the cop's part, but the crying seemed rather disproportionate.

And, as usual, there's more to the story than meets the eye at first glance.

Tests showed that the suspect was indeed drunk. Oh, and his father, Lee Yung-ran (李永然) (variously written as Lee Yung-jan and Y.R. Lee), is a lawyer employed by the KMT.

(I hope it's only "attempted-")
Murder or manslaughter
On Thursday, Peng Sheng-lu (彭盛露), the driver of a mid-sized blue truck (Taiwan-style pickup) rammed his vehicle into several media workers shooting video near a campaign truck belonging to the pan-green Taiwan Independence Party (TIP, 建國黨). The truck ran completely over an ETTV cameraman (UPDATE: His name is Wang Jui-chang [王瑞璋]), leaving a messy trail of blood and injuring the man very seriously. Police quickly extracted the driver, and people at the scene used their bare hands to turn the vehicle on its side and get the victim out.

What do you think the driver said when the cameras were focused on him and the police had him firmly in their grip? "I didn't mean it!" Reviewing video footage of the event, it appears that he did it on purpose. Oh, and he turns out to have been an employee of Mei Feng (梅峰), who styles himself a candidate for the "China legislature" in the upcoming election. And ETTV anchor Lu Hsiu-fang (盧秀芳) (sister of KMT legislator Lu Hsiu-yan [盧秀燕] and daughter-in-law of former vice-premier Hsu Li-teh [徐立德]) editorialized in her newscast that it was all the DPP's fault. SET reported late Thursday night that it looked like the suspect would be charged with attempted murder. For the sake of the cameraman, let's hope that charge doesn't become something even worse, but if it does (hell, even if it doesn't), let's hope they prosecute aggressively but not excessively.

The KMT school of violent crybabies
There is actually a school that teaches the following typical pan-blue behaviors: 1) Make shit up and/or do something violent; 2) If caught red-handed, squeal loudly like a stuck pig and say you didn't know/you didn't mean it/you're being abused/that it's martial law all over again/that the DPP is fomenting ethnic hatred; 3) Sit back, and let the pan-blue media do the rest; 4) If things go really badly, and you somehow end up being sentenced to hard time, somebody will arrange for you to escape and flee to China, where your red-handed deeds will be considered heroic.

I've seen this school with my own eyes, and so can you. All you have to do is turn on your TV and watch just about any channel at just about any time. Or pick up just about any of the newspapers you see outside of Taiwan's many convenience stores. Just be careful not to slip and fall into their ubiquitous traps.

Whatever you do, "Question everything -- especially this!"

Several species of small, furry animals, gathered together in an island nation and grooving with their tricks: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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