Fri, Nov 13, 2009 - Page 8 News List

An open letter to Taiwan’s president

Dear President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九),

During the past year, we, the undersigned — scholars and writers from the US, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia — have publicly expressed to your government our concerns about a number of trends and developments in Taiwan. On Nov. 6, 2008, and again on Dec. 2 in letters to Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰), we focused on the issues of erosion of justice, significant flaws in the judicial system and judicial abuses against members of the democratic opposition.

On Jan. 21, 2009, and again on May 21, we addressed two open letters to you, Mr. President, expressing concern about the fairness of the judicial system, as well as erosion of press freedom and democratic checks and balances.

We regret to say that the responses received from Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) did not adequately address the issues raised, nor have we seen any substantive ameliorative steps taken to correct the problems.

Since then, a number of developments have taken place — some positive and some negative — which prompted us to write to you again to express our views on these issues. We wish to reiterate that we raise these points as strong international supporters of Taiwan’s democracy who care deeply about the country and its future as a free and democratic nation.

We also emphasize that we do not take sides in internal political debates, but do have Taiwan’s international image and credibility as an international partner in mind. Because of the hard work and perseverance of the Taiwanese people, Taiwan was able to make the transition to democracy two decades ago.

We applaud this achievement and strongly believe that this basic fact, democracy, is the strongest card Taiwan can play in building and strengthening its relations with other countries around the world and the strongest protection against outside interference in Taiwan’s internal affairs.

We are sure that you would agree with us that Taiwan’s young democracy can only grow and prosper if it is nurtured through good governance, accountability and transparency based on the fundamental principles of freedom, democracy, justice and human rights. This would also adhere to both the letter and spirit of the two UN human rights covenants signed by you and ratified by the Legislative Yuan, and be enhanced by the implementation of these covenants into national law in accordance with the advice of the International Commission of Jurists.

During the past two decades, Taiwan has made major progress in each of these areas. It thus has been a disappointment for us to see an erosion of justice, a weakening of checks and balances in the democratic system and a decline in press freedom in Taiwan.

These trends are reflected in the significantly downward ratings Taiwan received in the annual reports of international organizations such as Freedom House and Reporters without Borders.

They are also reflected in the expressions of concern by international scholars and friends of Taiwan related to the flaws in the judicial proceedings against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and the apparent lack of neutrality in the continuing “investigations” and indictments of other prominent members of the former DPP government. We thus appeal to you again to ensure that measures are taken to ensure the impartiality and fairness of the judiciary.

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