Shih Ming-teh's Letter To Chen Shui-bian

In Taipei Times

Dubbing himself the president's "old comrade in arms," Shih wrote a letter to the president on Monday whose content was published in the Chinese-language China Times.

In the letter, Shih urged the president to step down from his post since he has lost the people's trust following his son-in-laws' alleged involvement in a corruption scandal and the recent controversy over the Presidential Office's special allowances.

"For the sake of Taiwan and the DPP, I urge Chen to step down bravely. Only a truly brave warrior admits his mistakes and gives up what he holds dear," the letter said.

Instead of a two-paragraph summary, here is the full translation of the letter (source: Boxun):

[in translation]

Chen Shui-bian Elder Brother Bian:

The situation requires me to write this letter and this has been an extreme torment for me ...

Even as I lift up my pen at this moment bathed in the warm morning sunlight, I am still reluctant to give up our personal and public relationship of over more than two decades.

In the grand trial of Formosa magazine, you were the youngest defending lawyer and I was the "infamous brigand."  All the other defendants found lawyers easily, but practically no one dared to defend me ... That historical serial drama has continued to play out to today.  We were all important actors.

In 1992, the National Legislature was elected anew and the second Parliament was formed.  I was the first ever "General Convener" and you were the "Executive Director."  The people had such great expectations of us!

In March 2000, one week before the presidential election, Lin I-hsiung and Ye Jyu-lan accompanied you to meet with me.  At the time, the outside was speculating that I would abandon you.  During the meeting, I only asked you to guarantee that once you become President: first thing, "Taiwan already has the standing of a sovereign and independent country and will never back down."

Second, "The people of Taiwan have the right to determine their own fates and they will never give that up."

In front of Lin and Ye, you swore to guarantee that.  Looking at things now, you have been able to guarantee that so far.  That is very pleasing.

But you also leaped ahead to guarantee that after you are elected, you will follow the example of the Formosa era and form a "Five Person Group" and invite "Chairman Shih, Chairman Lin ..." and other party elders to form a "National Political Consultative Group."

But even as those words were still fresh, when you were elected, you invited scholars and people from financial interests who had never been connected to and never participated in the Democratic Progressive Party to form the "National Political Consultative Group."  Even then party chairman Lin I-hsiung was excluded.  This was the first step by which your political authority moved towards the "Platinum system" and this was the critical mistake that led to your current predicament.  No world leaders would dare to openly embrace so many financial interest groups, provide so much power to the cabinet members and government officials and make no attempt to cover the trading of interests and powers ... You were personally close to the financial interest groups, and so how could your officials, family and relatives not become close to those financial interest groups as well?

The reason why the country has fallen so low has a cause.

In recent years, many vile thinkers have insulted me in many ways because I criticized your "platinum system" and I criticized your violation of the "spirit of the dual leadership" in the constitution.  Over the last six years, many things have gone awry in administration and legislation and the national political scene has gone into a void, but your supporters and those who are sharing the spoils of the system attack me most frequently by saying: "Grapes that you cannot eat are always sour" and "Frustrated politician"!  These vile thinkers do not know about the interactions between us:

In 2002, on the day after the election, you invited me to (1) return to the position of party chairman; (2) form a majority alliance in the National Legislature and contest for the speaker position; (3) become the chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation after Koo Chen-fu retires.  After I declined, you asked me personally again to become a political advisor.  The outside world was not aware that although you and I did not meet publicly, your senior staff often ask me to consider taking this or that position.  They also communicated your concern about my daughter and my financial situation.

These vile people ignore my ability to "not only endure suffering but be even stronger at resisting temptation."  They also accuse you wrongly of ignoring the "former chairman"!  Earlier this year, Ma Ying-jeou invited me to dinner and said with a laugh: "You always talk about national affairs.  Why don't you tell me what you can accept?"

So I thank you for your continued concern over the past six years.

Perhaps I still have a sentimentality in my heart.  In 2004, you were engaged in a political fight with Lian and Soong and you were obviously at a disadvantage.  No matter how hard Lian and Soong tried to draw me over to their side, I refused to stab you in the back.  I would rather run away to the United States than betray you and the Democratic Progressive Party.

Such was the relationship between the two of us.  I have a special friendship with Big Sister Bian.  Her life history has my full sympathy and her hearty character touches me.  I remembered that on the night of 9/21, the past party chairmen came to make the promotional film with you and Big Sister Bian.

When Big Sister Bian saw me, she yelled out aloud: "Nori!  You said that you were going to take me to a male dancing show.  Why have you not fulfilled your promise!"  A severely handicapped person can still be so straightforward!  Today, no matter how clamorous the SOGO case has been or how shocking the national security allowance affair has been, I have never criticized Elder Sister Bian, either in private or public.

On May 25 this year, I opened the first salvo against Chao Chien-ming who has still not acknowledged to any crime: "An apology is insufficient, for Chao Chien-ming must be detained."  From that day on, you and your family may be hating me.  But I must tell you, I have recently been telling friends: "With respect to Elder Brother and Sister Bian, I am guilty of the sentimentality of old revolutionaries!"

This is the background by which I admitted as I started this letter: "The situation requires me to write this letter and it has been an extreme torment for me ..."

There is no need to reiterate all the things that you, I and the whole society know.  At this point, in order for you to preserve yourselves, "Chao Chien-ming refused to admit to any crimes and President Chen refuses to acknowledge fault."  Everybody knows that.

These facts also put the nation into an impasse without any possibility of breakthrough.  Democracy has suffered a severe setback, morality has fallen by the wayside and the national affairs are unstable ... it is impossible to see how far the damage will go, or the day when the damage will stop.

You are smart enough to see that as long as you are in place, what future is there for the Democratic Progressive Party?  What future does Taiwan have?

As long as you are in place, is there any way to win the mayoral elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung at the end of this year?

As long as you are in place, how can the 2007 legislative elections not result in huge losses?

As long as you are in place, what hope is there for the Democratic Progressive Party in the 2008 presidential election?

For the love of the Democratic Progressive Party and for the love of Taiwan, please resign!

As the storm continues to rage, you not only refused to listen to criticisms from various sectors, but you were unwilling to meet people like me who still have the sentimentality of old revolutionaries.  You were willing only to take the encouragement and advice from the "Taiwan Independence big brothers" who have benefited from your authority over the past six years.  You call in the "Four Heavenly Kings" who depend on your wishes and listen to their theories about concentrating central power.  You "pat the heads" of the legislators and broadcast hosts who support you ... In front of you, you hear voices of support but do you know what the ordinary citizen is saying?

A few days ago, I went to shop at the food market.  I heard a vegetable vendor tell the meat vendor across him: "A-Hua!  Don't discard the invoices.  You must pick them up and bring them to the President's Office so that he can use them for the national security expenses!"

Last night, I went to park the car and the old toll collector told me: "Old chairman!  You have to tell A-Bian!  It is not right that A-Ching Sao's NT$25,000 monthly salary should be paid for by the nation!"

These are the true voices of all the common citizens who used to wave flags, cheer and support you!"

The president is the most obvious standard of morality in the nation.

The president is the physical embodiment of national sovereignty.

The president is the foundation of political stability.

When the standard is covered with dust, the body is contaminated and the foundation rock is tilting, what can the people hope for?

Elder brother A-Bian, we were wrong.  After assuming power, we did not make the party better and we did not lead Taiwan to a uncorrupt society.  We must be brave to acknowledge that we were wrong and we must bow and resign.  If we admit our errors frankly, we will be forgiven by the people.  If we continue to be obstinate and argumentative, it will only bring greater shame and retribution.

Democracy is valuable because it is not afraid of changing the steersman of the nation!

The greatest danger to a nation is when the people lose their faith and confidence!

Set a good example!

Exhibiting weakness is a virtue for the strong!

Only the truly strong can admit fault and dare to quit!

Your peaceful old warrior friend, Shih Ming-teh.  Written on the morning of August 7, 2006.

Wikipedia: Shih Ming-teh