Only in Taiwan – Episode 1

OK, enough of the vice. Let’s take this down to the street level, where personal conflicts are bound to escalate into violence. Imagine a simple public skirmish between no more than half a dozen people and no involvement of weaponry. There are two types of scenarios that develop in Taiwan. The first is an altercation between regular citizens – the average Joes. The second is an exact replica of the same altercation except at least one of the participants is rich and/or famous. A dust-up between the average Joes may result in arrests and prosecutions and lawsuits (or the cops might just tell everyone to cool out and go home). You never hear about that shit. The incident involving the celebrity becomes public entertainment. However, and this is the only in Taiwan part, both of these situations will be only be resolved by one party admitting guilt and handing over a large chunk of cash to the victim. Then it goes away. Poof!

Pre-assault Makiyo.

Makiyo was a B-level Taiwanese pop star, one of an infinite string of disposable figures who frequently appear on the cover of S.E. Asia’s answer to People: Next Magazine. She had a couple of mind-numbing “hits” and as a result of her half-Japanese heritage had distinguished herself from the pack of lightweight starlets. One night, Makiyo and her Japanese male friend got into an altercation with a taxi driver, which resulted in severe head injuries to the taxi driver.

You know how this is going to end, don’t you? That’s the boring part. What’s interesting is how it all unfolded. Makiyo’s original story was that she had nothing to do with it. OK, there were witnesses. Back up. Makiyo was there. Fine, move on. What happened?

First, the taxi driver’s story. He picked up Makiyo, her Japanese boypal, and one of her female chums outside a nightclub. As they set off for their destination, he asked the trio to please fasten their seat belts – since Taiwan had just enacted a new law requiring passengers in the back seat of taxis to fasten their seat belts. Apparently, Makiyo and crew weren’t interested in this new law and told the taxi driver to fuck off. The driver then pulled over and told them to get out, but first, pay me what’s on the meter. The trio again told him to fuck off and got out of the taxi. The driver then exited the taxi to confront the trio and collect his fare. And that’s all he remembers, since Makiyo and her Japanese boypal stomped his memory into the pavement.

Makiyo and boypal, proclaiming their innocence.

Once she actually admitted that there was a physical confrontation between herself, her friend, and the taxi driver, Makiyo said it was in self-defense, as the taxi driver had attempted to grab her breast. Her boypal was simply defending her honor by punching the dirty old man, once, in the back of the head. No mention of getting out of the taxi and stomping him on the ground.

Oh yeah, those witnesses. Damn! Unfortunately, several people saw the boypal and the taxi driver scuffle on the sidewalk. In fact, those same people saw Makiyo assaulting the driver as well. “They’re liars!” cried Makiyo. Well, there was one eyeball on the scene that never lies. The video cam of another taxi driver who pulled up on the scene. That taxi’s camera captured what certainly looked like Makiyo and her boypal, stomping the taxi driver like a cockroach. Hell, just watch the video here.

Now up until this time, several days after the incident, there had been no arrests. Makiyo and her pals were pulled in for questioning, but there were no charges. Meanwhile, the taxi driver is posted up in the ICU with severe head injuries. In fact, the Taipei City Police Department acknowledged its failure to include the incriminating video clip in the evidence package given to prosecutors and investigators. The prosecutors saw the footage on TV and then demanded the tape from the department. And that’s when Makiyo and crew got taken to the pokey, where they changed their statements and apologized for their misconduct, making deep bows to large crowds of reporters waiting for them at a police station. Makiyo paid $30,000TWD ($1,000US) in bail and was classified as a suspect in the incident.

Makiyo and friends begging forgiveness of the taxi driver’s wife.

Neither Makiyo nor her male Japanese friend Takateru Tomoyori wound up going to jail for the attack on the 55-year-old taxi driver Lin Yu-Jun. The judge presiding over the assault case took into account the prosecution’s recommendation for probation, and sentenced Makiyo to ten months in jail with three year’s probation. Tomoyori was sentenced to one year in jail with four year’s probation. I’ve been on probation before. It means stay out of trouble and all of this goes away.

The judge also found that the charges against the two had to be amended from aggravated assault to simple assault, since their attack on Lin did not result in permanent injuries, and he is recovering well from the incident. Makiyo and Tomoyori had previously agreed to settle the case with Lin by paying him $3 million TWD ($128,000). In light of the settlement, prosecutors revised the penalties they sought for Makiyo and Tomoyori, and recommended that their sentences be commuted to probation. Makiyo and her pals could have given the taxi driver the $100 TWD he asked for. Instead, they made a $3 million dollar mistake.

See how that works? Only in Taiwan.

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