US senate resolution touts rights

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

Sat, Aug 04, 2012 - Page 1

A resolution urging Taiwan’s government to strengthen its protection of democratic values and human rights was introduced in the US Senate on Thursday.

The resolution was prompted by a recently released report by the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) that concluded Taiwan’s January elections were “mostly free, but only partly fair.” The IEOM report said there were some“worrying factors” that may have affected the election outcome including vote buying, violations of administrative neutrality and China’s attempts to influence the vote.

It also added that some actions and statements by the US government “revealed a lack of neutrality.”

The Senate resolution was introduced jointly by Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Senator Mark Begich.

Included in the resolution were three major recommendations: The government of Taiwan should continue to strengthen its protection of democratic values and human rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press; Taiwan should take into consideration the conclusions and recommendations of international election monitors as it seeks to strengthen its democracy; and that the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully, in accordance with democratic principles.

“Taiwan’s free and open society plays a stabilizing role in the Asia- Pacific region and is thus conducive to the interests of states in the region, including the US, in furthering peace, prosperity and stability,” the resolution said.

It also stressed that the US government should continue to support democracy and human rights in Taiwan.

Former Alaska governor Frank Murkowski (Senator Murkowski’s father), who led the IEOM mission said: “I am pleased to see the work of our mission culminating in the insertion of the report into the Congressional Record. It is a signal that much work still remains to be done in terms of fairness of the elections and establishing a level playing field.”

The IEOM was invited to Taiwan by Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), chairman of the International Committee for Fair Elections in Taiwan.

“This helps us in Taiwan in our fight to protect the values of democracy, human rights and freedom of speech, assembly and the press,” Peng said. “There has been an erosion of these values during the past four years and we want to ensure that Taiwan remains a free democracy.”

Mark Kao (高龍榮), president of the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs, also praised the introduction of the resolution.

“Each election in Taiwan’s young democracy represents a precious opportunity to improve its capacity for democratic practice,” he said.