Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into Cabinet agencies within 20 days in a bid to find out whether any of them have created illegal secret accounts similar to those set up at the National Security Bureau (NSB).
"As far as I know there isn't any secret account set up at the Executive Yuan," Yu said.
He said he would nevertheless conduct a thorough investigation and submit a written report to the legislature within 20 days.
Yu made the comments in response to a request by KMT lawmaker Hung Hsiu-chu (
After reports in the China Times and Next magazine exposed secret operations dating from the Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) administration, law enforcement officials raided Next's offices. The author of the article has also been questioned and barred from leaving the country.
The reports cited information believed to have been provided by the NSB's former chief cashier, Colonel Liu Kuan-chun (劉冠軍), who is wanted by authorities for allegedly embezzling NT$192 million. Liu fled Taiwan in 2000 using a fake passport.
The reports claimed that two secret accounts, holding a combined NT$3.5 billion, were not subject to legislative scrutiny and were established at Lee's initiative to be used for secret diplomatic efforts and intelligence activities.
The raid not only upset the local media but also prompted the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to denounce the government's act as "censorship."
Yu, however, said yesterday that he supported the move.
"Law enforcement officials have the absolute right to investigate any irregularities," he said.
Yu also dismissed Hung's accusation that the government has handled the matter poorly.
"I believe the authorities concerned have struck a balance between national security and press freedom," he said.
Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (
"They were there to gather evidence for a suspected criminal act, not to censor the publication," Chen said. "There's no such a thing as censorship since the Publication Law was abolished in 1989. It is a crime to breach national security no matter who the person is."
When Hung questioned Yu on the legislative floor yesterday, he also suggested Yu replace Government Information Office Director-General Arthur Iap (
Hung said Yeh has a better grasp of the meaning of press freedom than Iap.
Yeh's late husband, Deng Nan-jung (
An independence advocate, Deng established the opposition magazine Freedom Era in 1984.