The Terrorist Blogger of Taiwan

(China Times)  November 10, 2006.

[in translation]

Americans get worried when 9/11 is invoked, but this is less true for people elsewhere.  After indictments were issued in the case of the state affairs fund in Taiwan, there were more voices of discontent about President Chen Shui-bian.  Recently, a Taiwan blogger published a "Happy Anti-Bian Guide" listing a hundred ways to depose Bian.  Although the police regarded this as a sarcastic piece used to release personal emotions, they read it carefully and came across a section about "putting bombs on airplanes and directing them into the President's Office."  This caused the police to be very concerned and they summoned the blogger for interrogation.  In the near future, the person may be charged with intent to instigate a crime.

This blog is titled 真.他媽的 ("Really.  F**k") and the blogger is Vinta. [Note: Vinta is a 19-year-old first-year university student]  On his blog, he claimed to have come to the attention of the Criminal Investigation Bureau and received a notice for an interview because the case involves "interfering with freedom."  After the blogger wrote about his experience, his blog received the attention of other netizens.  Of the many comments, most people were surprised that this sort of thing happens in Taiwan today.  Someone said "Vinta's anti-position may be obvious, but mine is not ambiguous.  So how come nobody has invited me yet?"

Concerning this case, the Criminal Investigation Bureau team said that while patrolling the Internet a few days ago, they discovered that this website contained a lot of anti-Bian speech.  In particular, the page known as "Happy Anti-Bian Guide" contains words like "putting bombs on airplanes and directing them into the President's Office."  Therefore, the police asked the blogger to come in and explain.  Although the blogger claimed that the speech was intended to make fun of the government without any intent to incite others to commit crime, the police believes that if this information is published publicly on a blog, then it implies criminal intent.  In the near future, the case will be referred to the prosecutor under Article 153 of the Criminal Law Code on inciting others to commit crime.

The text that drew the concern of the police was the following:

31.  Set up a "public project ... to put bombs on airplanes and direct them into the President's Office."  This idea of a competition of remote-control airplanes was offered by netizen Nanyan and is supplemented as follows: Your remote-control airplane, remote-control helicopter, remote-control space shuttle, remote-control missile and remote-control superman must be able to carry a bomb (or perhaps your missile can be detonated by remote control).  Your device must be able to fly from one side of the road to the President's Office on the other side to detonate.  There is no limit in the number of devices that a person can enter into the competition.  You can enter one, or a hundred.

The prizes are for the competition are:
5. Oh, a television station's Satellite News Gathering (SNG) vehicle
4. Oh, a pretty female reporter!
3. F*ck!  Here comes the military police!
2. F*ck!  The police too!
1. First prize -- You have the right to remain silent.  Every word that you say can be used against you in a court of law.
Special prize.  Am I going to executed by a firing squad?

While these prizes are full of humor and sarcasm, the item about "every word that you say will be used against you in a court of law" turned out to be very true because the police interviewed the blogger and will press charges on the basis of the words.  The blogger probably never expected this when he wrote those words!

Please remember that Vinta is not organizing people to ram Boeing 747's into the President's Office.  He is looking for people who can operate toy model airplanes!  And to put this in context about whether this should be construed as a serious threat, some of the less than inflammatory and more amusing items in that blog post are:

2.  Training your home pigeons to leave droppings when they fly over the President's Office building.

7.  Stick needles into the straw man.

10. Notify all the ISP's and web portals that "President Ah Bian's Electronic Newsletter" is junk mail.

26.  Write in the name of Chen Shui-bian in the "Death Notebook." [Note: the name of a famous manga/movie series about a notebook in which anyone whose name is written on will die."]  "... while counting money at home at 4:44pm on September 28, Chen Shui-bian died of heart failure."

47.  Promote the "Don't subscribe to newspaper/don't watch television" movement.  You boycott the pro-unification media sent over by the Chinese Communists not because you want to save money, but because you want to be happy.  Bianbian said: "I don't subscribe to newspapers now and I don't watch television.  I don't feel bad at all.  I am living happily."

63. Sell out Taiwan before Shih Ming-teh does it.  According to the Reverend Kao Chun-ming, Shih Ming-teh is the number one traitor of Taiwan ... eh, but it seems that the only person in all of Taiwan who has the authority and means to sell out Taiwan is the person who is the President ...

On this blog post dated November 8, 2006, the blogger described how he found out:

[in translation]

At the differential calculus class today, my mobile phone rang at the same time as the class bell rang.  The message came from the administrative instructor.  Unlike the administrative instructors in high schools, the university administrative instructors are especially friendly.  But no matter in high school or university, it is never a good thing to have to deal with the administrative instructors.  Indeed, the administrative instructor told me that the Criminal Investigation Bureau detectives have come to look for me at school.  He asked me to go to the Student Affairs Office as quickly as possible.  F*ck, I was getting a cold sweat ...

On the road to the Student Affairs Office, I tried to remember what kind of dastardly things I did recently.  Although I am not a good person (and I will never let anyone say that I am a "good" person), I have not posted the up-skirt photographs I took in the streets, and I have not operated any pornographic websites that pop up windows that cannot be closed!  So why did the CIB people want to see me?  Very quickly, the truth came out.  The reason was my blog!

That would be the one that you are reading right now.
I have no idea that my blog business is so big ...

The two detectives told me that "the higher-ups" ordered them to pay attention to the matter.  They hope that I can set up an appointment with them down at the Criminal Investigation Bureau.  They emphasized that it will not be a formal interrogation.  They just wanted to understand the motives for what I say on the blog and what I was thinking about ... they did not give me much else information.  I would have liked to know what they were concerned about and who "these higher-ups" are.

So I have finally come across the "national apparatus" in the legends.  Upon further thought, this is strange and frightening.  Maybe, I will be "evaporated" soon ... So is this particular blog post going to be my last!?  Or maybe when I wake up tomorrow, I will find myself in the torture room of the Criminal Investigation Bureau?

But then when I think that something written by a minor person such as myself should come to the "attention" of "the higher-ups," I am really really really ... overwhelmed by the favor!  In the final analysis, when the "people upstairs" are political figures (politicians) (public servants) (officials) (people whose salaries are paid by taxpayers) who do not have the magnanimity to be made fun of by the people, then things are really bad!

And here is blog post of November 10 about the sequence of events on the day of the interview:

[in translation]

The time is just past 1pm in the afternoon.

I check my watch.  
It is almost time.
My legs are weak.
From the university gate, I grab a taxi to the Criminal Investigation Bureau building.
The ride takes forever.
My legs are weak.
I see a red-colored building.
A coldness creeps up my body.
I leave my ID at the reception desk.
I take the elevator to go upstairs.
My legs are weak.
I look for Mr. Detective.
My elders, the senior official and the detectives exchange pleasantries (I did not go alone).  [Note: Vinta was accompanied his parent and three university officials]
The interrogation takes place (this is different from what I imagined -- no telephone phone book thumping on the chest, no desk lamps shining in the face).
The interrogation is over.
The senior official and the detectives inform me about the next steps (don't ask me what they are).
I have a cold sweat.

Then a 'pushy' reporter appears.
My elders take care of it.
My elders, the senior officer and the detectives exchange pleasantries.
I take the elevator to do downstairs.
I retrieve my ID.

I get out of the front door.
I see a tourist bus (are tourists visiting the Criminal Investigation Bureau?)

I look up and see a blue sky.
(this sky is so blue that it is miserable)

I find a taxi.
I return to the university.

It is the mid-term exam tomorrow.
Should I prepare for it?
Right now, I need a lot of time to think about even one calculus problem.

Actually, I only need to attend university once in my life.

Concerning that blog post with the numerous comments, I do not feel that I have the right to tell anyone to stop commenting or discussing as I believe in "freedom of speech."  Ultimately, we have to be responsible for what we say.  I did not have any intent to "incite others to commit crimes."  I only want to show my humble sense of humor (and it is truly humble).  If those words violate the law, I have no excuse because I was the one who wrote them.  If life does not permit some fun or sarcasm, then there isn't a lot of fun in life ...

Of course, this means the boundary of the language becomes important.  Freedom of speech may not equal unlimited expression, but it cannot possibly be restricted to this extent ...

In addition to the "Happy Anti-Bian Guide," the blogger Vinta also had a blog post on the "Proper Anti-Bian Guide."  This is actually a well-considered list of things which are precisely what is happening ...

[in partial translation]

1. Make sure that "Anti-Bian" is not equated to "Pan-blue."  I would rather be a fool or fathead, but I will never be "Pan-blue."

2. Recall vote in the Legislature.  The vote requires 25% of the legislators to support the initial motion and 2/3 of the legislators to vote YES.  This then leads to the public referendum phase.  That is to say, the ultimate decision will be in the hands of the people.  But from the previous recall votes, it is clear that the DPP has blocked the 2/3 vote in the Legislature, and they don't care about letting the people exercise their right to decide.  Of course, we must not forget just who set this threshold so high -- it was the KMT.

3. Censure.

4.  Vote of no confidence in the Premier and his cabinet.  This may force the President to dissolve the Legislature (although he does not have to) and hold new elections.  The newly elected Legislature may re-consider the recall vote again.  This is one big circling action!

5. Let us study why we cannot use legal methods within the system to bring Chen Shui-bian down.
What is wrong with the system?
What is wrong with the laws?
What is wrong with the educational system?

6. Do not think that bringing Chen Shui-bian down will put an end to corruption and political chaos.
Because even if one Chen Shui-bian goes down, there will still be many more other Chen Shui-bian's left.