By Jane Rickards
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, September 22, 2007
TAIPEI, Taiwan, Sept. 21 -- Vice President Annette Lu and two other senior figures from Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party were charged Friday with corruption and forgery, the latest in a series of scandals that have created turmoil in President Chen Shui-bian's independence-minded government.
In addition to Lu, Yu Shyi-kun, the party chairman, and Chen Tan Sun, secretary general of the National Security Council, were accused of having misused government expense accounts by claiming expenses with false receipts.
At the same time, Frank Hsieh, the ruling party's presidential candidate for elections in March, and his running mate, Su Tseng-chang, were cleared of wrongdoing in the same probe.
The indictments seemed likely to weaken the chances of the ruling party in the presidential election and in parliamentary elections scheduled for January. But Andrew Yang, a political analyst, said the impact was unlikely to be dramatic and would affect mainly middle-of-the-road voters who have not decided between President Chen's Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition Nationalist Party.
"It will not make a significant difference to hard-core supporters, who will continue to support the DPP," said Yang, secretary general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies.
Lu, a former political prisoner and human rights champion, was accused of embezzling about $165,000 from her expense account using false receipts from December 2000 to May 2006, according to a statement from Taiwan's Supreme Prosecutor's Office.
Yu was charged with claiming about $70,000 illegally with false receipts from October 2000 to December 2005 while he was vice premier, premier and secretary general of the presidential office. Chen Tan Sun, a former foreign minister and secretary general of the presidential office, was charged with illegally claiming $11,000 using false receipts from July 2004 to June 2006.
President Chen's office said in a statement that he respected the judiciary's work but believed that Lu and the two others were innocent of any crime.
A judge last month cleared the Nationalist presidential candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, of similar charges stemming from his use of a special expense account attached to his office of Taipei mayor.
Chen's wife, Wu Shu-chen, was indicted last fall on charges of embezzling about $450,000 using false receipts. Prosecutors said then that they believed Chen was involved but that he was protected from indictment by presidential immunity.