An open response
On behalf of the Government of the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, I am writing in response to the “Open letter to Taiwan’s President” cosigned by 26 persons and published by the Taipei Times on May 21, 2009 (page 8). This government has conscientiously responded in detail to three earlier open letters published in the Taipei Times, signed by essentially the same group of persons, expressing concerns about Taiwan’s judicial system, human rights and democracy. The May 21 letter reveals, however, that the signatories continue to have misconceptions on these matters, which I would like to take this opportunity to clear up.
1. False accusations of unjust prosecutorial and judicial processes.
Although, administratively, prosecutors in Taiwan are under the jurisdiction of the executive branch’s Ministry of Justice, they nevertheless in effect function as “judicial officials,” as they enjoy the same legally protected independence as judges under the jurisdiction of the judicial branch.
With regard to charges of corruption against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and others were indicted as accomplices on Nov. 3, 2006, long before president Chen stepped down in May 2008. When president Chen was finally indicted on Dec. 12, 2008, it was the prosecutor-general appointed by the [former] president himself who approved the indictment.
I would like to reiterate that this administration strictly adheres to a hands-off policy concerning individual legal cases and completely respects the independence of the prosecutorial and judicial systems. This administration cannot possibly change its attitude of noninterference in order to mollify critics who seem to believe it has the power to change things to their liking.
2. No indication of selective prosecution.
To date, most of the family members and former subordinates of former president Chen who are under investigation or on trial have admitted their guilt to prosecutors or judges on all or some of the charges against them. For instance, on Jan. 21, 2009, his son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) and daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚) confessed in court to charges in connection with money laundering and sought to plea bargain. Former first lady Wu Shu-jen also confessed to four charges in court on Feb. 10, 2009, including forgery, leaking confidential information, accepting bribes and money laundering. On Feb. 19, former Presidential Office cashier Chen Chen-hui (陳鎮慧) confessed in court to all four charges against her — forgery, perjury, corruption and money laundering.
While the appropriateness of the current pretrial and intra-trial detention system has been widely discussed in various circles of society since the allegations of corruption were brought against former president Chen, the impartiality of the judges and the judicial system has not been seriously questioned.
3. No intervention in CNA editorial policy.
As for the open letter’s accusation of our government’s influence on the Central News Agency’s (CNA) direction of news reporting, I want to set the record straight: The ROC government has never intervened in the CNA’s news reporting or editorial policy. If one looks at recent CNA reports on government actions, one can tell that the news agency covers viewpoints of all sectors, including suspicions and criticisms. This demonstrates that the government has not intervened in CNA operations.