Apologies for the light blogging, but I just spent probably the most disheartening week of my life in Taiwan… But the dark hours have passed….and so it’s back to the blog….

Speaking of dawning light, Ma Ying-jeou was found not guilty of stealing the government money that he had downloaded into his personal account and used for private uses in the all-important appeal of his case to the high court. Kathrin Hille of the Financial Times reports:

“This verdict removes the main risk the case had posed to our campaign,” said Ho Hung-jung, a senior campaign aide of Mr Ma. “Although it is not final, any further appeal will take too much time to hit Mr Ma before the election. That puts him in safe territory.”

Mr Ma had a monthly mayoral allowance wired directly into his personal bank account from 1998 to 2006 and used most of the funds for personal purposes. Prosecutors had therefore accused him of corruption.

But the High Court took the view that there was no clear definition in Taiwan whether such allowances – which are common – are public funds or part of politicians’ private income and that therefore Mr Ma was not guilty.

Prosecutors had also accused Mr Ma of breach of trust, a charge that they hoped would be easier to establish than the corruption charge. A guilty verdict on that charge could have carried a final sentence of more than ten years and would have barred Mr Ma from running for president.

Hille points out that Ma is under investigation for similar acts in previous positions, and Hsieh is under all sorts of investigations. Since everyone took the cash as an entitlement — its purpose was to corrupt the bureaucracy and co-opt it into the System — it follows that no one can be convicted if Ma is not convicted — at least in a legal system where reason and precedent held sway.