Taiwan indicts veteran dissident for anti-Chen campaign

Taiwan indicts veteran dissident for anti-Chen campaign
Sat Aug 4, 2007 10:47AM IST

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A veteran Taiwan dissident is facing charges of illegal assembly a year after leading mass anti-corruption protests against former party colleague President Chen Shui-bian, an aide said on Saturday.

Prosecutors indicted Shih Ming-teh, 66, for violating the Assembly and Parade Law, the aide said.

Hundreds of thousands of people led by Shih, former chairman of Chen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), began a wave of street protests last September to call for Chen’s resignation over allegations of corruption surrounding the president and his family. Chen denied any wrongdoing.

Now the Taipei Prosecutors Office has indicted Shih and 15 others, including former lawmakers and scholars, local newspapers reported on Saturday. Shih said he hoped the court would make a speedy ruling and vowed not to appeal, the reports said.

Shih, known to sympathisers as Taiwan’s Nelson Mandela, spent a total of 25 years in jail under the authoritarian rule of the Kuomintang (KMT), or Nationalist party.

In 1979, Shih was convicted of treason because of his role in organising the Kaohsiung Incident, a pro-democracy demonstration involving other people now participating in Taiwan politics. One of the lawyers who defended him was Chen Shui-bian.

Shih walked free in 1990 after martial law was lifted. In 1992, he was elected to parliament and served there until 2000, when Chen and the DPP ended the Kuomintang’s 50-year rule.

He went on to chair the DPP but quit in 1996. He lost a bid to return to parliament in 2004.

Shih recently underwent surgery for liver cancer.

Double-standards rule!  Chen Dabian first used his power to get an indictment from Ma Yingjeou and now Shih Ming-teh for defying him with the anti-corruption protests.  When Chen was first brought to power he was expected to dismantle the KMT-created institutions to democratise the government.  Ironically, his reforms worked too well because the same institutions eventually caught him and his wife for stealing taxpayer money.

His wife was able to avoid trial by faking illness when she was brought to testify while Chen has Presidential immunity, while keeps him off the hook until his term is up.  In any event, it looks like he has enough supports to get indictments against his rivals such as Ma Yingjeou and now his former allies.  Taiwan Province is a joke indeed.  Chen Dabian got away with mass corruption and people love him for it.

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