The erosion of human rights under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, in particular regarding the judiciary and media, has placed Taiwan’s proud democracy in jeopardy and requires attention from the international community, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.
“The worsening situation of media development and judicial bias, along with the increasing impact of the ‘China factor,’ have all been serious threats to democracy in Taiwan. We call for the international community’s attention on the ongoing democratic crisis in Taiwan,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told an international press conference called on Human Rights Day.
Su blasted what he said was Ma’s lack of progress on promoting and protecting human rights during his term, as well as his inaction on what he called the judiciary’s malicious prosecution of former DPP government officials and Beijing’s influence on Taiwan’s media.
The president’s silence on Tibet’s worsening human rights development and his refusal of the Dalai Lama’s visa were “unwise, incorrect and impolite,” Su said, adding that his party supports Tibetans’ calls for democracy and religious freedom.
Ma has not only sat and watched Beijing’s behind-the-scene maneuvering, he has been personally involved in the monopolization and control of Taiwan’s media, former Public Television Service general manager Sylvia Feng (馮賢賢) said.
Feng accused Ma of applying a three-part strategy to monopolize local media by first “paralyzing the public television system and controlling the Chinese Television System,” then following up with Want Want China Times Group’s (旺旺中時集團) “vertical integration of a cable television service and horizontal integration of its pending merger of the Next Media Group.”
Feng said Ma turned a deaf ear when renowned US-based historian Yu Ying-shih (余英時) of Academia Sinica categorically voiced his concerns about increasing Chinese influence on Taiwan’s media.
On the judicial front, other than the system’s relentless and malicious prosecutions of DPP politicians, most of which were later dropped, the president has failed to honor his promise to amend domestic laws that do not comply with a pair of international human rights covenants that his administration ratified in 2009, lawyer Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) told the press conference,
Ma has only paid lip service to the covenants because the 54 regulations listed by the Ma administration as incompatible with the covenants have not been amended three years after his administration ratified them, Kao said.
Implementing the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) was the most glaring example of Ma’s noncompliance with the covenants, Kao said.
Summing up Ma’s presidency over the past five years, DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said there were two major crises in Taiwan: first, people’s suffering from the sluggish economy; second, the backsliding of human rights and the re-emergence of authoritarianism.
The DPP legislative caucus also expressed concern about the human rights situation at a press conference held in the Legislative Yuan yesterday.
DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said it was imperative for Ma to “roll up his sleeves and do whatever he needs to do on a wide range of human rights issues” because the government will not improve human rights simply by ratifying international covenants.