Liu Aides Entrapped, Say Shocked Chinatown Voters

The Chinese community remains steadfast in their support for John Liu but the guilty verdicts have left many disillusioned with politics. (Photo by Brock Stoneham/Voices of NY)

The guilty verdicts of Jenny Hou, former campaign treasurer of Comptroller John Liu, and Oliver Pan, Liu’s fundraiser, shocked all of Chinatown. Many Chinese voters said that although the trial had been going on for a while, they believed the two would be found not guilty, and the results yesterday (May 2) came as a surprise.

Many people said the verdicts are unfair because Hou and Pan are the victims of federal entrapment. They also worry that the case will be a big blow to the passion for participating in politics among Chinese Americans. Some called on voters to answer the hostility against Liu with a stronger support for his mayoral campaign.

Ever since the trial started, many people from the Chinese community have been to the courtroom to show their support to Hou and Pan. The Fujianese community showed great sympathy especially to Pan, who is from Fujian province in China. Jimmy Cheng, co-chair of the United Fujianese American Association, left court yesterday with a heavy heart. He said, Pan is a very warm-hearted person and he likes to help people and never expects anything in return and this has helped him build a positive reputation in the community.

Having followed the trial, Cheng said Pan sounded like he was very naïve and that made him fall into the trap set by the government. Because of this, people are very sympathetic to him. Cheng added that new immigrants from Fujian have been working hard on assimilating and trying to merge into the mainstream by participating in politics. But now many will be deterred by what happened to Pan. “Many people said they will never touch politics again,” Cheng said.

Cheng also called on voters to keep supporting Liu’s campaign. He said that now the fundraising period is reaching an end, and the next step is to vote. And all citizens should register and vote. “If we stop because someone was set up and we are scared, they’ll win.”

Gang Yong Wang, chairman of Fuzhou United Friendship Association NY, has also been going to court frequently to hear the case. He said, indeed, the leaders of all the bigger Fujianese organizations have been there to support Hou and Pan. Wang said he only met Hou once and thought she was a very outgoing person. But Pan’s reputation of helping people is very well-known in the community. “Many people in our community are new immigrants from Fujian who don’t speak English. He often helped them with language. He also helped a lot in community organizations. And he did all of this for free,” Wang said.

Wang said Pan was obviously entrapped by the FBI. “We really don’t understand the justice system in the U.S. Many people thought Pan should be found not guilty. He is not a politician. He was only helping John Liu. But we all helped John Liu because he is Chinese and we are proud of him. But now Pan fell into a trap. And I think most people would easily fall into a trap like that if they were targeted,” Wang said.

He said Chinese voters have learned a lot from this case. But the case has also destroyed their willingness to participate in politics. “Many people were planning to donate to Liu. But now they all changed their minds. They’re saying, let’s stay low to avoid trouble. But indeed if you donate legally, you’ll be fine.”

Eddie Chiu, counselor of the Lin Sing Association, doesn’t think Pan is as innocent as some people believe. “He is a businessman. He should know the rules and the consequences of breaking them,” Chiu said. But Chiu is very sympathetic to Hou. “When she was an intern in Liu’s office, she often came to Lin Sing with some other young people. I know her well. She is so young…”

Chiu said that the positive side to this case, if any, is that Liu was not dragged in, and “he can keep campaigning.” But he said it is harder for Lin Sing to do fundraising for politicians now. “Some people who said they will donate before now all use this case as an excuse for not doing so.”

Virginia Kee, a veteran political activist in Chinatown, said the verdicts made her very sad. She talked to many unrelated attorneys and judges she knows and they all thought this was an obvious entrapment by the FBI, and Hou and Pan would be found not guilty. But now everyone was wrong. Although Liu was not charged, Kee said he is also a victim. “They just want to damage his reputation and defeat his campaign. There is no justice in this case.”

But Kee said Liu still has a lot of supporters. The United Democratic Organization (UDO), a club in which she is a founding member, will hold their annual banquet on May 9 and Liu will be honored and she expects a lot of people will attend the event. UDO is also planning to endorse Liu. “We want to tell him, this case is very unfair. And we will always be with you,” Kee said.

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  1. Pingback: Going Back To Prison, Jenny Hou Tries To Be Strong

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