Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Madame Chiang cost Taiwan NT$1 billion

The China Times today reported that Madame Chiang Kai-shek's upkeep in the US over the last 30 years of her life cost Taiwanese taxpayers NT$1 billion. During the last years of Madame Chiang's very long life, her niece Kong Ling-wei was chaffuered around by Madame Chiang's driver--also at taxpayer expense. President Chen rejected suggestions that Madame Chiang's retinue be reduced on two occasions since 2000.

The story is based on unnamed sources, presumably inside the Presidential Office who fed the story to the China Times with the clear intention of putting recent allegation of corruption over the of a housekeeper at the president's family residence in perspective.

President Chen's disabled wife Wu Shu-chen, in contrast, has no staff assigned to her, and she pays her private nurse out of her own pocket.

This is indeed one of the great mysteries of the Chen administration. Why didn't he shut down Madame Chiang's tax payer-funded lifestyle and make sure his children and relatives were not abusing his office (albeit lesser scale by far)? And why didn't his administration, elected on a reform platform, at least attempt to reform Taiwan's imperial presidency? If he had, he would have easily survived this concatenation of manufactured and trumped-up charges against him by the rabid Blue camp. But since he has failed to carry out his mandate, he is being punished by an angry, alienated electorate.

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