Mon, Dec 29, 2008 - Page 8 News List

[LETTERS]

Police not above the law

Over the past few months I have witnessed a number of incidents in which police have acted inappropriately toward peaceful protesters. Some of these incidents occurred during the time of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin’s (陳雲林) visit to Taiwan, but there have been others, both before and after.

In all these cases, people were protesting peacefully. They merely wanted to express their opinions and be heard by the government. They were acting in a reasonable manner and had no intention of causing unnecessary disturbance to the general public.

Taiwan needs to put in place clear mechanisms for investigating police misconduct. Police are responsible for upholding the law, but they should never be above the law. There also needs to be an independent commission established to thoroughly investigate the incidents that happened during Chen’s visit.

I know the police do a difficult job and work very long hours. However, I would like to humbly offer some advice to them.

First, they should make more of an effort to communicate with protesters. Engaging in dialogue and negotiation can resolve the vast majority of conflicts. It also allows both sides to develop greater mutual respect toward each other.

Second, they must at all times respect human rights and the law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and chapter two of the Constitution provide the basic principles on which laws are founded. The laws provide a further framework for these rights. It is the police force’s job to enforce the law.

However, human rights should always be used as the first principle.

DAVID REID

Sindian, Taipei County

Panda Politics

On Tuesday, China gave two pandas to Taipei Zoo as a gesture of peace, unity and friendship in the course of warming cross-strait relations. For the past month, the media and the public have devoted much attention to the pandas. However, beneath China’s seemingly innocuous gift of the pandas lie several interesting points.

Perhaps the naming of the pandas, Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓), meaning “reunion” in Chinese when combined together, which invokes the notion of reunification of the two entities on either side of the Taiwan Strait, did not come as much of a surprise. However, China did originally give Taiwan the opportunity to decide the names of the pandas and yet, interestingly, the Taipei City Government and Taipei Zoo director Jason Yeh (葉傑生) renounced the right to choose names that are more tailored to the local culture.

In addition, the date of the arrival of the pandas appears to be well calculated. The pandas will make their first public appearance on the first day of Lunar New Year, which is an important holiday marked by the reunion of the family.

The international press have pointed out the underlying intention of “unification” behind the “panda diplomacy” in its reports, whereas the majority of the Taiwanese press has been caught up in “pandamania.”

The slow but steady erosion of Taiwanese cultural values may not be as far-fetched as we first thought.

THOMAS CHOU

Bali, Taipei County

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