Thu, Mar 28, 2002 - Page 8 News List


Treason, not press freedom

It is disappointing that an impartial organization, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), has underestimated the complexity of the current judicial investigation of Taiwan's Next magazine, and carelessly accused the Taiwanese government of conducting a "raid."

The latest edition of Next not only uncovered the existence of secret bank accounts that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) used to fund espionage on China, but also revealed a list of security agents working worldwide for the Taiwanese government.

Publication of the list placed the lives of these agents in grave danger.

Definitions of "national security" are always ambiguous, as are those of "freedom of the press."

Standards for national security vary from one country to another, depending on the circumstances.

Taiwan, of necessity, adopts particularly high standards in this regard to safeguard herself against possible attack by China.

Taiwanese society contains two conflicting forces: "outsiders" and natives.

Some say that the outsiders, originating from the KMT, have been conspiring to rebel since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)was elected in 2000.

Since long before the transfer of power, "outsiders" had occupied the senior positions in the press and security services.

The source of Next's controversial report, Liu-Kuan-chun (劉冠軍), a fugitive wanted by the Taiwan government, is one of the "outsiders." He used to work in the National Security Bureau.

After the transfer of power, he allegedly stole a huge amount of money from government accounts and eventually fled to China. It doesn't take much to realize that his motive for disclosing the secrets was to create disorder and chaos in Taiwan.

Journalists should have the professionalism to publish only those parts of the information that do not threaten national security.

In consideration of the special security risks and complex ethnic relationships in Taiwan, we call upon the CPJ to withdraw its absurd condemnation of our government. We believe that that condemnation was based on incomplete information provided by a small group of people in Taiwan.

We expect an independent judicial investigation into this case. Any interference with that process, or with the investigation's findings, will be unacceptable.


Students' Association

York, UK

Press freedom above all else

In response to your editorial "Consumer action, not censorship" ( Mar. 23, page 8), it would seem inappropriate for a "democratic" government to dismiss the people's basic right to know about topics of legitimate public concern. The confiscation of 160,000 copies of Next magazine was one of the biggest media crackdowns in Taiwan's history. People in Taiwan had known about the secret funds ever since the chief cashier of the National Security Bureau fled Taiwan. The Next article contained nothing but minute details.

Your editorial seems to encourage people to do the censoring themselves! I hope that Taiwan is not joining Indonesia and Thailand in damaging democracy. Neither government censorship nor self-censorship is the answer.

Julian Wang

Chiayi, Taiwan

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