Sun, Jul 13, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Letters:

Paal was misrepresented

On July 5 and July 7, the Taipei Times published opinion pieces that incorrectly and inexplicably repeated an allegation that American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Douglas Paal opposes the holding of referendums in Taiwan.

Paal has made clear in a widely published interview that he has not expressed this view. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) have also said publicly more than once that Paal did not express such blanket opposition.

These statements are on the record and should be well known to your editors.

You owe it to your readers to ensure the factual accuracy of material you publish, including articles expressing opinion.

Judith Mudd-Krijgelmans

AIT spokesperson

US no friend of democracy

I was almost cheered by the vision conjured up by your article ("Bush's vision for Iraqi freedom is firmly on track," July 7, page 9) It was a vision of jubilant and grateful Iraqis empowered "by the coalition, joining 28,000 American combat forces enforcing order and arresting criminals, and Iraqi citizens [who] feel safer leaving their homes."

But then who, I wondered, had crafted this oasis of calm in the midst of a Desert Storm? It was AIT Director Douglas Paal, whose own commitment to democracy and freedom has been well-demonstrated recently in his comments on Taiwan's right to self-determination.

Paal does not extend the same hand of freedom to Taiwan, the country where he lives and works. Ever since a few hundred people converged on Paal's office protesting against the Iraq war, the AIT has erected a large sign, reminding people in both English and Chinese that public protest is illegal. It seems a little odd to be singing about democracy and freedom whilst banning demonstrations by invoking a rule that served martial law under the KMT dictatorship.

Paal's warmth toward another odious dictatorship -- the one across the Taiwan Strait -- also runs counter to his seeming belief in the benefits of democracy. The DPP announced their intention to hold referendums on, for example, independence and the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. Yet Paal made no distinction between these two issues. Instead he merely repeated a version of Beijing's "three no's" policy: no self-determination, no ifs and no buts.

Iraq shares with Taiwan the dilemma that without accepting the US' conditional goodwill, it risks being blown into oblivion. Even if -- faced with no alternative -- they accept, they are hardly guaranteed sovereignty. US President George W. Bush and Paal have yet to admit it, but the US does not wish true democracy and self-determination for either nation. Instead, it prefers to allow both countries, as outposts of the new world order, to play at democracy, to feign freedom as long as, ultimately, they heed America's bidding.

Gareth Price

Taipei

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