However, when asked by the Taipei Times, Chen’s assistant, Chiang Chao-kuo (江肇國), said that “direct communication” was part of the police’s surveillance duties during the Martial Law era, and no longer exists today.
When asked about their visit to the musician’s home, the Tainan City Government Police Bureau’s (台南市政府警察局) regional office in Sinying said they wouldn’t “reveal the reason why Lala Lin is on the watch list” — the existence of which is denied by the NSB — for fear of violating the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法).
But she is not a risky offender, the office stresses, adding that it is also part of the police’s duties to regularly visit households that have missing persons, high-school drop-outs and senior citizens who live alone. But Lala Lin is not one of these people.
The office also says Lala Lin is not a “special case.” The officers simply followed the “standard operating procedure which is the same nation-wide” by visiting her household after receiving “data from the NPA,” without knowing beforehand her involvement in the Dapu protests.
Central government agencies, meanwhile, are keeping a tight lip. When contacted by the Taipei Times, the NSB and the NPA declined to comment if there is a watch list for protesters.
For legislator Chen, there are very few, let alone effective, ways to stop intelligence services from conducting unlawful surveillance operations.
“Anything related to intelligence and national security usually operates behind closed doors. You ask for information from them. They have it at hand, but they will tell you no, they don’t have it,” he says.
Chen told the Taipei Times that Lala Lin’s case represents only a tiny fraction of a broader surveillance project that was initiated after the forced demolition in Miaoli on July 18 triggered a wave of street protests against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and commissioner Liu. He added that he hasn’t seen the list of those under surveillance, but knows who is on it from an anonymous source.
The legislator believes that the order to compile the watch list comes from “high above,” since the NSB is under the supervision of the National Security Council (國家安全會議), which is under the direct command of the president.
Chen, who served as deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office in 2007 and 2008, says he is familiar with “how things are done” at the Presidential Office.
“People often protested [when the DPP administration was in power], but we never kept students under surveillance ... It is not that you can’t monitor people. What matters is whom you monitor and using what means. And is it legal?” Chen says.
The lawmaker says it is standard practice for the intelligence services to collect information, compile lists of individuals who may pose a security threat to the president and other high-ranking government officials when they travel domestically. He said gangsters and other “suspicious individuals” are examples of those who can be monitored by law enforcement.