Tue, Apr 12, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Official hits back at academics’ letter

’POLITICAL’:The Presidential Office suggested that a ‘good time’ to expose the matter of unreturned documents was rare since there are elections almost every year

By Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporter

The Presidential Office yesterday hit back at foreign academics questioning the timing of accusing 17 former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government officials of having “failed to return” 36,000 documents during the DPP administration, saying the move was not politically motivated.

Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said it was “unfair” for foreigners who knew little about the situation to “recklessly interfere in and criticize” the legal means President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has adopted to deal with the matter and label it as a “political ploy.”

“It is an absolute disrespect for Taiwan’s rule of law,” he said. “It is a fact that a large quantity of documents are missing. After learning of the fact, we don’t have any other alternative but to deal with the matter in accordance with the law.”

If the people in question felt they should not be held responsible for the missing documents, they should offer a clear account to the Control Yuan, honestly and candidly, Lo said.

Lo made the remarks in response to an open letter signed by 34 academics and writers from the US, Canada, Europe and Australia that was published in yesterday’s edition of the Taipei Times.

They included former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Nat Bellochi; Stephen Yates, former deputy assistant for national security affairs to former US vice president Dick Cheney, and Bruce Jacobs, a Monash University professor and expert on Taiwanese politics. One of the signatories is Taiwanese.

They questioned the timing of the Presidential Office’s allegations, saying they should have been made during the transition period between the DPP administration and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government in 2008.

“To come up with this matter three years later, when the primaries for next year’s presidential elections are underway, suggests a political motive,” they said in the letter.

Besides, the announcement of the “missing documents” came one day before former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) declared his candidacy in the DPP presidential primary, they said.

“Announcing an investigation of him and the others at this time certainly gives the impression of a political ploy intended to discredit the DPP and its candidates,” they said.

“As observers of political developments in Taiwan for many decades, we believe that these charges are politically motivated,” they said. “It appears to be an attempt to use the Control Yuan and judicial system for political ends, in an effort to appear ‘legal’ and avoid criticism by foreign governments and human rights groups.”

Lo urged the letter’s signatories to “respect Taiwan’s rule of law before the Control Yuan concludes its investigation.”

On the timing of the announcement, Lo said the investigation into the “missing documents” began in September 2008 at the request of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Panel, which found 44 boxes of documents that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had taken away from the Presidential Office after he stepped down.

Because of the office’s limited manpower, Lo said it took them more than two years to complete the probe.

As Taiwan has elections almost every year, Lo said he wondered when would be the best time to expose the matter.

“The Republic of China is a country ruled by law. I believe not a single government in the world would sit idly by when it discovers its official documents have gone missing and are circulating outside,” he said. “If we do not report the matter to the authorities, we risk being held responsible politically and legally.”

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