I’m not going to comment extensively on the whole indictment mess until after I see what the President says later this morning. Meanwhile the Washington Post’s Ed Cody has a perfectly awful article on the mess. Cody usually does yeoman work in getting the balance right, so I wondered what was going on until I saw, at the bottom, the fact that Jane Rickards in Taipei had contributed to the report. Rickards is a reporter for the pro-KMT English language China Post and is not what anyone would call an unbiased source. Over at the BBC Caroline Gluck turns in yet another article. She still won’t admit what every other news reporter on the island has already discovered, that the Shih protests were partisan political hackery. She writes:

“It’s a disgrace for Taiwan’s democracy that we have such a corrupt president who lied so many times,” said Emile Sheng, professor of political science at Soochow University and spokesman for a campaign that has organised weeks of street protests to highlight corruption and urged President Chen to step down.

“Four weeks of street protests to highlight corruption!” And yet standing next to Shih so many times was James Soong, the leader of the PFP, recently slapped with the largest fine in Taiwan political history for tax evasion, and fingered in a French court in 2003 as the recipient of a $400 million kickback. Yes, corruption certainly was highlighted in that instance. Ironically, the prosecutors had shut down the investigation into that $400 million kickback case but continued with the Chen investigation into a $450,000 embezzlement case. Gluck also repeats a standard KMT claim: that the prosecutors were controlled by the President’s office without contextualization:

He and other critics of the president had, in the past, voiced their concerns over what they felt was a lack of independence in the judiciary.

“This gives us some hope that not all prosecutors are willing to be controlled by the executive power, it’s a sign of judicial independence in Taiwan,” he said.

I doubt anyone seriously watching events believes that the prosecutors in Taiwan, overwhelmingly pro-Blue, could be controlled by the President’s Office. But Shih Ming-te himself claimed that the prosecutors were motivated by political concerns:

While some yesterday saw the indictment against the first lady as a sign of judicial independence, Shih said prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁) acted based on the mounting public pressure to oust Chen rather than on the principle of justice.

“Eric Chen has a sharp legal mind and he knows if he wants to go down in Taiwanese history as a hero and maintain his career past 2008, he must indict the first family now,” he said.

Calling his anti-graft campaign a “major success” and a historical movement, Shih said he plans to resume his normal life soon after Chen’s removal.

This analysis is self-serving. No direct evidence exists to cast doubt on Eric Chen’s integrity.

The US is meanwhile remaining silent. The indictments have swept the arms purchase discussion, which was reflecting very badly on the KMT and its legislative allies, right out of the news, and revived the dead Shih protest movement, as well as sparked KMT hopeful Hau Lung-bin’s mayoral hopes.

Looking forward to Chen’s explanation today. It had better be good.

UPDATE: The Foreigner has a great commentary on the whole mess with plenty of links.

UPDATE: ESWN has translations from the pro-Blue media on what Chen and the family bought.