Sunday, April 30, 2006

Our Sad Story

It was 3 years ago I visited my Dad in jail , but the memory still deeply engraved in everyone’s heart.

Mother tells me that Dad is not willing to talk about the scene inside the jail because of pride. He does not want us to worry about him. During the three month jail term, the mother’s weekly visit became the only joy in Dad's life that helped him live through those agonizing days. Finally, when the 3 months was over, Dad almost had to stay an extra night inside the jail because my old father’s memory was so bad, that he could not find the release document.

Mom was so worried that day, she checked with other prisoners released before Dad. She found that the releasing room accommodated 21 criminals. All slept on the wet cold plank. Dad had to get permission to purchase an additional blanket to sleep on. His roommates all knew that he was innocent and he was wrongfully jailed!

According to the rules in jail, prisoners are not permitted to put on socks or wear hats. While the younger workers wear hats, scarves, also gloves. There is no heater available inside jail. My poor Dad suffered a cold and the inflammation of the trachea. He applied for treatment, but was told that the jail clinic was under renovation.

The medicine Dad got was useless. He had to hire a doctor from outside the jail for more diagnosis. The doctor provided medication that cost several thousand Taiwan dollars. Mother knew that he spent more than forty thousand dollars for medical treatment in three months. She is afraid to ask any more details from Dad because she worried that would bring back bad memory.

My father, an 83 year old retaired army colonel, has never broken any law in his entire life. Honor is the second life of military personnel. The authority in Taiwan charged him a monstrous and fictitious crime and sent him to the jail. He shared room with true criminals of all ages and was so humiliated. He was 83 years old. Why did not the judge rule out the jail term and replace it with fines instead?

He was a good veteran. After retirement he sold the chicken farm to the construction company through an old schoolmate. He went along with an arrangement to let his friend pocket a big commission. Two partners of the construction company acted as good Christian and gain his trust. After eating a lunch box provided by them, my father signed a 77 million NTD (1 USD = 31 NTD)note prepared by the construction company and put his finger print on it. They added the note amount to the sales price to increase the land cost and reduced the capital gain, so the company can save tax. Ever since my parents resisted cooperating with them, the law suit was developed into a complicated legal matter and lasted for almost 15 years.

We won the first trial and the judge decided the contract was invalid since the note is a fake. But we lost the 2nd and 3rd final trial. One of the construction company’s former employee disclosed that his boss had a personal relationship with one of the judges. All the 6 pieces of land under contract were auctioned off at ridiculously low price. There were 6 additional pieces of land not related to the matter were also robbed through the court without paying even a penny to us.

The construction company then sold all pieces land to a third company. 55 units Luxurious villa were built and sold during year 2000, and they made an unheard of profit!

My desperate parents published a half page ad in the newspaper trying to gain public's attention. The other party retaliated by filing civil and criminal lawsuits accusing my parent of "slander" and "false” accusations. It was like spraying salt on their wounds after losing their land, money and end up in jail. All my Dad did was trying to sell his land. What kind of justice is this?

My Dad used to climb mountain and was very healthy. The three month-long jail term, missed spending the Chinese New Year with the family, all of a sudden my healthy Daddy, became too old and weak to do anything, anymore. We took him to the hospital for physical examinations as soon as he got out of prison, but the damage is done. He became quiet, forgetful, had hearing problem, and coughed all the time. He had phlegm all the time, his whole body ached, and he depended on acupuncture for temporary relief of the pain.

I have tried to contact the elected officials in Taiwan. During President Chen Siue-Bian’s visit to Houston, I personally handed him a letter. I met his cabinet member, the Minister of the Judiciary Department, Mr. Chen Ding-Nan in person during his overseas symposium. All these efforts just like dropping a stone into the ocean, no results at all, not even an echo.

My 81 year old mom, who has had heart by-pass surgery, will not give up. For the past 15 years, she personally has visited the Taiwanese Legislative Branch, the Human Rights Association, the Justice Improvement Association more than a hundred times. And the elderly lady taught herself how to type and publish the weekly e-newspaper named "The Dark Judicature". She had published 213 issues, never missed an issue, even when she was ill. Recently, she got her own blog where her writings are more easily accessible than before.

I flew back to Taiwan, with my Dad’s power of attorney, trying to contact the other party to settle the case. I am willing to accept any offer they may give, I just wanted to find some peace for my elderly parents so that they can live in peace in their sunset years. I waited for 3 weeks to get an appointment. However, only their attorney and an elderly employee showed up, knowing nothing, saying nothing and able to do nothing at all. Two weeks later, they sent us a registered letter saying that they were disappointed that my dad was not present. It complains that we are not serious. I just could not believe what I read.

We were informed by the SinYi District mediation committee, on March 22, 2006, on April 12, on May 3rd and May 17 again to go through mediation. I hope all my friends will be there and join my old mother to show their support, or at least read more about this travesty by visiting my mother's blog [ Taiwan judicature◎world purgatory ]to understand more details, view the photos of the properties or to sign in and leave a message or note in her Visitor's book. Lend her your support. Time is the essence. This is a daughter's wish and I write each and every word with tearful eyes...

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Visit my 83 year old Dad in a Taiwanese jail

When I woke up that morning, Mom was ready to go, wearing her hat, gloves, scarf, and coat. She carried expensive fruits and dried meats that she bought the day before. My younger brother started the car. We drove to the market and bought abalone, roast duck and chicken. My aged father had bad teeth. I wondered that how could he chew such food. Mom told me that the food was intended for the rough inmates. Hopefully, they will not rough up my old Dad. The market was very bustling and lively, but our hearts were extremely heavy and sad.

After finished shopping, we drove through Taipei city and got on to the freeway heading south. I could not enjoy the mid-winter scenery because I was very uncomfortable about facing my Dad in jail. Mom and my younger brother had visited Dad in jail many times. As soon as I leaned that he was locked up in jail, I flew half way across the globe. I wanted to do everything I could to help my father. I felt so helpless that I am just an ordinary girl. There was nothing I could do about Taiwan’s judiciary system. Is this my beloved homeland? Is this really the place where I grew up?

After an hour and a half, we arrived at the jail. We took a number and waited for about 45 minutes. They examined our identity cards to be sure that we were relatives. Then we handed them some money so that my father could buy the ultra-expensive daily necessities in prison. Next we brought in the food item. It was weighed to make sure that it did not exceed the permitted limit. The guard also opened each bag and pierced it with a knife to make sure nothing was hidden. Then the food was transferred to the plastic bag provided by the jail. It was sealed with the prisoner's number, and was then allowed to be carried into the jail.

The L-shaped visiting room was partitioned with windows. It had iron bars wrapped around it. At the bottom of the window glass, small holes allowed the phone line to connect from both sides. Only two family members were allowed for each prisoner. We waited with 30~40 people in the sitting area, and the prisoners would come to the glass window, one by one. My elderly father was so weak. He always was the last one to show up. Everyone waited anxiously.

During that cold winter, my poor old Dad did not have a hat for his head with thin and white hair. His feet were in plastic slippers without socks. He wore a light jacket, limping along the way. I felt as if a thousand sharp knives pierced through my heart. I had to force myself to look cheerful but tears blurred both my eyes…. Dad acted stronger than us, he was happy to see that his daughter flew all the way from the USA in order to see him. He urged us not to feel bad for him. He talked to mom about getting permission to see the doctor.

The visiting hour was over before we are ready. It was time to leave, and as soon as I turned around, I could not stop the tears from falling like rain….