Regarding the recommendations and opinions expressed in a recent open letter concerning Taiwan’s freedom and democracy, its judicial system and Taiwan-China relations (“An open letter to Taiwan’s president,” Nov. 13, page 8), on behalf of the Republic of China (ROC) government, I have already responded in detail in the pages of this newspaper to similar statements in earlier open letters signed by many of the same people.
Rather than repeat myself, therefore, I would like to direct the attention of the signatories to examples of the international community’s assessments and public opinion on these matters.
Freedom House: Taiwan a model among new Asian democracies.
Following two decades of governmental and judicial reform, Taiwan has created the most flourishing democratic system and freest press environment among Chinese societies in East Asia. According to the Freedom in the World 2009 survey released by Freedom House, we not only continue to rank among the world’s “free” countries but count as a model of success among new Asian democracies.
Further, our ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and our enactment of legislation requiring all domestic laws to conform with these covenants, have won the praise of international human rights groups. Undeniably, the Republic of China has evolved into a genuinely free and democratic nation respected as such in the international community — not one in which, as claimed in the open letter, freedom and democracy have eroded.
Transparency International: Taiwan progressing in honesty of government.
The several cases of suspected corruption on the part of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and officials in his administrative team that have erupted since 2008 have seriously damaged the nation’s international image and destroyed citizens’ trust in and respect for the government.
Since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in May 2008, his administration has drawn up a new blueprint for cultivating governmental integrity and has energetically promoted reform aimed at enhancing cleanliness of government. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2009 released by Transparency International on Nov. 17, 2009, our ranking among the 180 countries surveyed rose to 37th place, illustrating international analysts’ affirmation of our reform efforts.
In the future, enjoying the firm support of our citizenry, this government will join forces with other sectors of society to press forward with anti-corruption reform measures to realize the ideal of clean government and a society founded on trust.
Political and Economic Risk Consultancy: Taiwan’s judicial system fair, independent.
Regarding the handling of court cases involving the former president, under President Ma’s leadership, this government has put great importance on maintaining the fairness and independence of our prosecutorial and judicial systems and has in no way interfered in their operations in pursuit of any political agenda.
On Sept. 11 this year, the Taipei District Court found former president Chen, as well as his wife, son and daughter-in-law, guilty of several crimes, including money laundering and embezzling money from the presidential state affairs fund, for which they were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. The latter three had confessed to a number of charges. At a Taiwan High Court hearing on Nov. 24, Chen’s wife, son, daughter and son-in-law pled guilty to charges of perjury. And before the same court on the previous day, a former chairperson of the state-controlled Taipei Financial Center Corp admitted having committed perjury and having given the former first lady a bribe of NT$10 million (US$309,000) in exchange for help in securing the “Taipei 101” chairperson position.