Sat, Nov 09, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Expatriates see growing backslide in democracy

The undersigned overseas Taiwanese organizations hereby express our deep concern about recent developments in Taiwan.

First, we wish to emphasize our roots in Taiwan, the land of our birth. We do live in the US, Canada and Europe, but we feel strongly about our homeland. Many of us worked hard to help Taiwan make the transition to democracy in the 1980s and 1990s.

Especially since Taiwan has made such major progress toward a fully democratic system during the past 25 years, it is regrettable that the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has eroded Taiwan’s democracy and freedoms with his pro-China policies.On the surface, these policies may appear to bring about a reduction of tension, but in reality they are setting Taiwan up for a larger conflict when China’s repressive designs for “unification” collide with the reality of Taiwan’s democracy.

While this backsliding of freedom, democracy and human rights has been going on since the beginning of the Ma administration, we are particularly incensed about recent moves by the Ma government that show a distinct lack of respect for democracy, and a fundamental breach of the basic principles of separation of powers and checks and balances in a democracy.

These basic principles are enshrined in the Republic of China Constitution. While we strongly believe that the Constitution needs to be amended to reflect the new reality that Taiwan is now a free, democratic and independent country, it is essential that the government abides by the Constitution that is presently in force. The actions of President Ma and his administration in attempting to remove Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) clearly violated those principles.

In addition, the extensive abuse of power and the rampant wiretapping by the Special Investigation Division (SID) also constitute a violation of the Constitution, in particular Article 12, which guarantees the individual’s freedom of privacy of correspondence.

It is time for the Ma government to listen to the Taiwanese, and to move toward policies and decisions that reflect the views of ordinary people, the men and women in the street. In particular this means:

One, an end to the extraordinary powers vested in the SID. The Legislative Yuan should immediately pass legislation abolishing the division.

Two, Taiwan needs judicial reform, completely removing political influence from the judiciary. The judicial branch needs to be completely independent from both the executive and legislative branch of government, so that Taiwan can enjoy clear separation of powers.

Three, Taiwan needs legislative reform so that legislators can truly represent their constituencies and the legislature becomes an effective and efficient part of the system of governance. The legislative process needs to become a true give-and-take of political negotiations in which all political opinions are shown respect and decisions are made on the basis of rational discussion.

As overseas Taiwanese, we also fully endorse the statement issued by the 29 international academics and writers who expressed their concerns in a statement titled “Human rights, democracy threatened,” published in the Taipei Times on Oct. 14 and in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Oct. 16.

Signatories:
United States
1. Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA)

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