Wed, May 04, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Freedom House lowers Taiwan’s press ranking

LESS FREE:The nation has fallen five places in the world rankings since 2008 and DPP legislators were quick to link the decline with President Ma Ying-jeou’s taking office

By William Lowther, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporters in WASHINGTON and TAIPEI

“Cyber attacks on at least three foreign journalists based in Taiwan raised new security concerns about reporters whose work relates to mainland China,” the report said.

“The three were among an unknown number of reporters and activists who found in March 2010 that their Yahoo email accounts had been compromised,” it said. “The source of the attack was unclear, but the breaches were similar to attacks on Google’s system that led that company to announce in early 2010 that it would curtail its China operations.”

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers responded to the report by saying the decline in ranking highlighted “serious problems” in interaction between government and the media.

The drop corresponded with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) taking office in 2008, DPP lawmakers said, adding that the rankings were the direct result of the government’s “highly controversial” media placement practices as well as interference from China.

The drop was “well within expectations,” DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said. “From many aspects we can see that Taiwan’s media freedoms are undergoing a noticeable change.”

Other issues that likely had an impact were the Public Television System Foundation controversy as well the increasing number of comments from senior government officials attempting to influence what the media can do, DPP lawmakers said.

“We must review [the matter] and reflect [on its implications],” DPP Legislator Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) said. “Ma must return the media to 100 percent freedom to ensure that Taiwan fulfills international standards.”

Government Information Office Minister Philip Yang (楊永明) said the government would “humbly conduct self-criticism” and make improvements in all problem areas to achieve a better performance next year.

“The report shows that the efforts made by the government to safeguard freedom of speech have been highly recognized by the international community. It has been a consistent policy of our nation and the government will continue to adhere to that commitment,” Yang said.

Yang did not dispute that the incidents highlighted in the report had contributed to Taiwan’s drop in rankings, but he said the government had measures in place to address them.

The legislature in January approved the Budget Act (預算法) to ban embedded marketing by government agencies, but that was not taken into consideration in the report, he said.

Taiwan would have had a better ranking if Freedom House had promptly take into account how the government addressed the problem, he said.

Yang denied the government had intervened with the Public Television Service Foundation, saying it respected the laws and independence of the broadcaster.

He would not comment on the issues regarding the amendments to Children and Youth Welfare Act and the NCC’s refusal to issue a broadcast license to Next TV.

This story has been viewed 14837 times.
TOP top