The undersigned, scholars and writers from the US, Europe and Australia, wish to express their deep concern about the recent series of detentions in Taiwan of present and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government officials. To date there have been at least seven such cases.
It is obvious that there have been cases of corruption in Taiwan, but these have occurred in both political camps. The political neutrality of the judicial system is an essential element in a democracy. It is also essential that any accused are considered innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.
We also believe that the procedures followed by the prosecutor’s offices are severely flawed: while one or two of the accused have been formally charged, the majority is being held incommunicado without being charged. This is a severe contravention of the writ of habeas corpus and a basic violation of due process, justice and the rule of law.
In the meantime, the prosecutor’s offices evidently leak detrimental information to the press. This kind of “trial by press” is a violation of the basic standards of judicial procedures. It also gives the distinct impression that the Kuomintang (KMT) authorities are using the judicial system to get even with members of the former DPP government.
In addition, the people who are being held incommunicado are of course unable to defend themselves against the misreporting and the leaks in the news media.
We do firmly believe that any alleged wrongdoings must be dealt with in a fair and open manner in an impartial court. Justice through the rule of law is essential to Taiwan’s efforts to consolidate democracy and protect fundamental human rights.
We do not want to see Taiwan’s hard-earned democracy jeopardized in this manner. Taiwan can justifiably be proud of its transition to democracy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It would be sad for Taiwan and detrimental to its international image if the progress which was made during the past 20 years would be erased. Taiwan needs to move forward, not backwards to the unfair and unjust procedures as practiced during the dark days of Martial Law (1947-1987).
Former Far Eastern Economic Review bureau chief
Former American Institute in Taiwan chairman
Formosan Association for Public Affairs, Washington
David Prager Branner
Director at large (East Asia),
American Oriental Society
Gordon G. Chang
The Coming Collapse of China
PROF. June Teufel Dreyer
University of Miami
PROF. Edward Friedman
University of Wisconsin
PROF. Bruce Jacobs
Richard C. Kagan
Author and former associate professor, National Taipei University
ASSOC. PROF. Daniel Lynch
School of International Relations, University of Southern California
PROF. Victor H. Mair
University of Pennsylvania
ASSOC. PROF. Donald Rodgers
PROF. Terence Russell
University of Manitoba
PROF. Scott Simon
University of Ottawa
John J. Tkacik Jr
Senior research fellow,
The Heritage Foundation
Gerrit van der Wees
Editor, Taiwan Communique PROF. Arthur Waldron
University of Pennsylvania
PROF. Vincent Wei-cheng Wang
University of Richmond
President of DC Asia Advisory and former deputy assistant to the vice president for national security affairs.