Taipei Civil Detention Center
Former Republic of China in-exile President was interviewed for this exclusive report from the prison where he is being detained. Translation assistance by Richard Hartzell. Chen was interviewed surrounded by three guards and was kept behind bullet-proof glass and bars.
Q Many say you didn’t get a fair trial but nobody knows what to do?
A It’s true I didn’t get a fair trial but the problem is people don’t understand the details. It is important to understand the details of the trial and why I’m not guilty under the charges that were brought against me.
Q Did you ever imagine as President ending up in prison?
A I never imagined ending up in prison. During my 8 years in office I set up a special investigatory branch as part of the highest court level. As it happened from the time I set it up until now I’m the one who has been investigated under that procedure. Of course, I had not expected this to happen.
Q In light of your prison experience what would you do if you could be released and return to office in 2012?
A Taiwan has to continue with the goal of one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait, that is the final goal. The common notion among the DPP people of bringing the DPP back to power in 2012, this is an overriding consideration and to move forward with some kind of native Taiwanese agenda and to lessen the influence of the “mainlanders” as represented by President Ma.
Q What is your vision for Taiwan’s future?
A One country on each side of the Taiwan Strait with Taiwan being its own nation. That is the long-term goal.
Q Is the prosecution of you a vendetta or an attempt to destroy the DPP?
A I’ve been charged with misappropriation of funds or misuse of two types of funds. One is the special Presidential allowance which every President has, the other is campaign funds. During my term of office I served as head of the DPP and was intimately involved in DPP affairs while head of the government. In both of these situations I have done nothing that Lee, or today, President Ma, whether in terms of how receipts were handled, or what was or was not considered a valid receipt in terms of what kind of receipts were actually used such as receipts from my wife or relatives, I was just following along with the same procedures that had been in place. After President Lee left the people or staff of the Presidential office mostly stayed there. Questions on how to handle things were asked of the staff and they would answer based on the previous experience on how they dealt with issues in the previous administration. I did business the same way President Lee did and from what from what I read in the papers, the same way President Ma has done. But I have been charged for misuse and misappropriation. People need to learn at the most basic level that valid charges have not been brought against me.
Q Is it a corruption case or a political case?
A It is a political case. If you look at developments from 2000 to 2008 you will see there is a continual effort to penalize me politically. So now they got their chance. I have been a rock in the path of President Ma to Ma’s closer relations to China. A rock that has now been pushed aside. President made the decision in late April 2008 that this has to be done. The foreign dignitaries came and I was picked up shortly after that. I was let go for two weeks and then picked up again. This sort of procedure is highly unusual and amounted to saying the decision to let him go by the first judge was not acceptable to the higher-ups and so they politically changed the judge. Politically motivated. They brought me back in.
Q Ma’s popularity is falling, many say that puts Taiwan in a crisis because it creates a sense of urgency in Ma to do his business with China. Will there be a sellout of Taiwan to China?
A This is a valid concern, I lose sleep over it. But in the final analysis the 23 million people of Taiwan do have the power to make their voices heard. It is unlikely Ma can sell out Taiwan because the people will not stand for it.
Q Daily routine in prison?
A Awake at 7, breakfast at 7:30, lunch at 11 and dinner at 4. I eat my meals alone in my cell. Lights out a 9, I get two extra hours of light until 11 but only a small light on my desk that makes me squint to write, not quite adequate for use. I have books and paper and pens. I live alone, my meals are brought in to me. I don’t have much appetite for the food , I eat a lot of bread. I leave my cell for court hearings and to the visitor room for visitors but the rest of the time I am in my cell.
Q You are smiling, how do you keep up your spirits?
A I am convinced I have done no wrong under the charges brought against me and decision showed that. There was no evidence I had actually misappropriated or misused funds, there was no evidence of that so why are they holding me? My innocence will win out. My good name will be restored. Justice will triumph. The Taiwanese people will triumph. I am on a path where my situation will come to a successful conclusion so that is why I’m upbeat. I’m confident I will be shown to be innocent of the charges and shown to have not violated the rules and laws regarding the use and appropriation of these funds. The people of Taiwan will win out over the KMT attempt to sellout to China so everything must move in this direction.
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