Sun, Mar 24, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: NSB furor raises loyalty question

A national security adviser interviewed by this paper a couple of days ago remarked that the furor over the National Security Bureau's (NSB) secret funding is not a freedom of the press issue, nor a matter of budgetary regulation, nor even -- and if there is any secondary significance it should be this -- a question of Oliver North-style secret foreign policy and a lack of accountability. It is, he said, a security issue. So it is, and almost anything else is so much smoke and mirrors.

The basis of this case is that secret documents have been removed from the nation's premier intelligence organization and given to the press. Unfortunately in the criticism of the High Court Prosecutors' Office for carrying out the raid on Next magazine, and opposition attempts to embarrass President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for continuing a practice instituted by the principal opposition party when it was in power -- preposterously hypocritical as such attempts seem -- we are in danger of losing sight of this fact. National secrets have been stolen and given or sold -- we don't know which -- to the press, and probably passed on to Taiwan's enemies.

Obviously one focus of the investigation has to be on who stole the secrets. But just as importantly is the question why.

Conventional wisdom has so far ascribed the leak to Colonel Liu Kuan-chun (劉冠軍), the missing alleged embezzler of NSB funds. That would be bad enough. After all Liu was the NSB's chief cashier and, in his knowledge of who was paid, where and for what, literally the keeper of the bureau's crown jewels. But another fear is now haunting the NSB, namely that there is an NSB leaker in place, conniving with the PFP -- the role of which in disseminating their information is becoming more obvious by the day -- to try to cause as much damage to the government and ex-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) as possible.

Even damage control represents a huge problem. One can assume that anything the PFP knows China also knows, since the PFP makes no secret of where its loyalties lie. So does China only know what Colonel Liu knows, which would be bad enough but at least Liu hasn't been around for the last two years, or is there a more up-to-date source, leaking current secrets to the PFP and thence to Beijing?

And this of course raises the whole question of loyalty and, incidentally, of press freedom. Taiwan is at war. People too often forget this. It is in a state of war with China. It has repeatedly sought to end this but China refuses to renounce the option of unification by force. For all the talk of Taiwan investment in China and the building of cross-strait ties, China is still belligerent toward Taiwan. It is amazing therefore that there are so many in Taiwan's intelligence and security services, its military and its government ministries, in the legislature and in the media who are sympathetic to this foreign aggressor which seeks to incorporate Taiwan unwillingly, if necessary, into its empire.

What is to be done about such people? Taiwan is perhaps unique in history in having an administrative and cultural elite that actually seeks to undermine its sovereignty and hand it over to an enemy power. So far the DPP government has shied away from the question of who can be trusted, falling for the reunificationist trick whereby any questions about loyalty are called anti-democratic or provocative of ethnic division. But it's the pro-China lobby that provokes ethnic division if only by trying constantly to damage Taiwan's domestic and international interests. The NSB furor is an example of this in action. Let us hope that it focuses the mind of the government on the loyalty question at last.

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