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Staged Assassination / Terror in Taiwan?

Was the shooting stage-managed?

Most of the suspicions stem from claims made within hours of the event by Sisy Chen, a maverick legislator opposed to the president. She alleged that the president had been taken to a hospital that was several kilometres away, rather than to the nearest available treatment centre.

The government pointed out that wherever the president travels, one hospital is designated to treat him in case of emergency because of security concerns, and this was where he had been taken.

But within hours of Ms Chen's comments, rumours started spreading across Taiwan, by word of mouth and by text message, that the shooting was faked. According to these rumours, the shooting was designed to cause a surge of sympathy for the president and tip the extremely tight race in his favour.

After the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lost the election, its candidate Lien Chan appeared to incite further speculation by referring to unspecified "doubts" and calling the result unfair.

The KMT has instituted legal action against the election authorities in the hope the courts will rule the election was illegal. But under Taiwan's election law, election authorities appear to have acted correctly, since the poll should only have been suspended if Mr Chen has been killed in the shooting.

The KMT also says it wants a recount of the votes as soon as possible, a demand that Mr Chen's Democratic Progressive Party has said it would be happy to go along with.

Much will now depend on the KMT-led protests  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3573605.stm being staged outside the president's office in Taipei.
Pictures of the president's injury have not convinced the opposition
Pictures of the president's injury have not convinced the opposition
The opposition want a recount
The opposition want a recount
Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 14:40 GMT

Q&A: Taiwan election 'conspiracy'

A week after Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian was re-elected within hours of being shot, the opposition is still claiming the vote was unfair.

BBC News Online looks into the background to the main allegations and conspiracy theories gripping the island.

Was the shooting stage-managed?

Most of the suspicions about the shooting stem from claims made within hours of the event by Sisy Chen, a maverick legislator opposed to the president. She alleged that the president had been taken to a hospital that was several kilometres away, rather than to the nearest available treatment centre.

The government pointed out that wherever the president travels, one hospital is designated to treat him in case of emergency because of security concerns, and this was where he had been taken.

But within hours of Ms Chen's comments, rumours started spreading across Taiwan, by word of mouth and by text message, that the shooting was faked. According to these rumours, the shooting was designed to cause a surge of sympathy for the president and tip the extremely tight race in his favour.

After the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lost the election, its candidate Lien Chan appeared to incite further speculation by referring to unspecified "doubts" and calling the result unfair.

What evidence is there to back these claims?

Very little, at least so far.

KMT supporters told BBC News Online they based their suspicions on the fact there was no photographic evidence of the attack taking place, and no by-standers had come forward to say they had seen the perpetrators.

But Mr Chen was campaigning when the attack took place, in a motorcade driving through the streets of the southern city of Tainan. On such occasions, it is usual for the only cameras to be on board the motorcade, ahead of or behind the president's vehicle. Cameras therefore have a poor and patchy view of what is going on immediately around him.

To complicate matters further, some pictures were released soon after the attack which local TV said showed a red, blood mark on Mr Chen's jacket. The pictures were poor quality and were reproduced by several international news organisations, including BBC News Online.

Pictures were then released of Mr Chen arriving at hospital, but on these, no blood was visible.

The discrepancy - which spawned further conspiracy theories - was explained when it turned out that the red mark on the TV pictures was in fact a safety belt, and Mr Chen's injuries had only left blood marks on the inside of his clothes.

As for the lack of witnesses, such election events are also marked by the letting off of large numbers of fire-crackers as the motorcade passes. In the confusion and noise - with everyone looking at the president rather than the crowd - it is less surprising that nobody seemed to notice the attacker.

And what evidence is there the attack was genuine?

The government released pictures of Mr Chen being operated on, pictures of the bullet's damage to his stomach and to the knee of his Vice-President Annette Lu, and pictures of the bullet itself.


Protests have been peaceful so far
Investigators have interviewed more than 400 people and now believe two shots were fired. They have also narrowed down the scene of the attack to a 50-metre stretch of road, and they have found two bullet casings.

But they have been less convincing in terms of finding any suspects, or motive.

Until they do so, the confrontational mood spawned by such a tight election result will likely lead to more mistrust.

What about KMT claims about spoiled ballots?

Since Mr Chen won the election by less than 30,000 votes, the KMT has also raised questions about the relatively high number of spoiled votes, again calling the result into question.

Election authorities declared a total of 337,000 ballots invalid, a sharp increase from the 120,000-140,000 spoiled in the past two presidential polls.

Independent observers have not raised any concerns about the increase, and since the counting was open to scrutiny by both campaigns, it is difficult to see how anything could have been done to favour one over another.

A more likely explanation is that civic groups disillusioned with the nature and style of Taiwan politics persuaded people to spoil ballots as a protest vote.

The most visible such group was the Million Invalid Ballot Alliance, which received some media coverage and called on people to reject both candidates.

So what happens next?

Good question. There has never been this type of showdown in Taiwan's short history of democracy, so politicians and lawyers have no precedents to go on.

The KMT has instituted legal action against the election authorities in the hope the courts will rule the election was illegal. But under Taiwan's election law, election authorities appear to have acted correctly, since the poll should only have been suspended if Mr Chen has been killed in the shooting.

The KMT also says it wants a recount of the votes as soon as possible, a demand that Mr Chen's Democratic Progressive Party has said it would be happy to go along with.

But after legislators from the two parties came to blows over the issue, it was not clear if their statements were genuine, or issued to make political capital.

Much will now depend on the KMT-led protests being staged outside the president's office in Taipei.

These have so far been peaceful and relatively small. The government may be hoping that if it can hold on until the number of protesters begins to dwindle, the crisis can be defused without further trouble.

The KMT's leaders, well aware of that possibility, and of their own tenuous position, will be looking for ways to keep Mr Chen's government on the defensive.

homepage: homepage: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3560355.stm

Interesting Signs From Taiwan Protests 27.Mar.2004 02:39

BBC


The opposition's message to President Chen Shui-bian was clear:
The opposition's message to President Chen Shui-bian was clear:
the president's attempted assassination a day before the polls looks suspicious.
the president's attempted assassination a day before the polls looks suspicious.

Why are the Signs in English? 27.Mar.2004 09:03

curious

Who are they trying to convince? The independent Chinese of Taiwan or the media-fed of America?
When I see inconsistencies like that I am on guard for a propaganda scam.

to 'curious' 27.Mar.2004 12:00

Quizmaster

"the media-fed of America"

--where in U.S. media have such close-up photographs of the demonstrators or discussion of their demands been displayed? the above posted story and photos are from the British Broadcasting Company.

I'd say the signs seem faked... 27.Mar.2004 15:48

Tony Blair's dog

and that this seems to be a media stunt.

I'm with curious that this smells fishy.
But since I have little knowlege on who the Brittish
and U.S. governments want in power it is hard to
see through the fog at the moment.

T B d - 27.Mar.2004 19:30

Quizmaster

well, I agree that the whole thing is fishy, and foggy.

but Taiwan has a large English-speaking population.

and the protests themselves - from whatever angle of the political spectrum - are well-organized en masse by the major Taiwan opposition party.

but the mainland Chinese government has already stated that they won't put up with such unrest for long:

 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3573605.stm


also 27.Mar.2004 19:40

Quizmaster

US has long been Taiwan's ally, and today sees China as an economic / strategic competitor.

we've kind of kept Taiwan as a "Washington, D.C." style protectorate / ghetto - allowing their 'unity' with mainland China and economic progress to continue, but simultaneously not allowing Taiwan to fully assert its own nation-statehood and independence.

the continuing 'unrest' (and China's new warnings) could be used as a pretext for a direct US intervention in Taiwan, a face-off with China, or both - if things heat up.