Thu, Dec 26, 2002 - Page 4 News List

More freedom of press demanded

By Tsai Ting-I  /  STAFF REPORTER

The president of the Association of Taiwan Journalists yesterday demanded more press freedom and independence in a speech given to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and officials from the Presidential Office.

While relations between the Presidential Office and media are tense following the president's botched trip to Indonesia, the Presidential Office invited a journalists association to talk about media workers' worries and the expectations of local media.

"Though Taiwan has experienced the rotation of political parties, the new government has still failed to protect freedom of speech, or make [government] information transparent, and provide public services to the media," said Shih Jing-wen (石靜文), president of the association.

In attendance were President Chen, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and various officials from the Presidential Office.

Shih explained that the government's system of verbally informing journalists creates a lot of difficulties, while the lack of definition for classified government information also caused disputes, centering on the freedom of press versus national security.

"Media organizations are not entitled to avoid any prosecutors' search, but the legal system's frequent searches of media organizations could easily damage the freedom of the press, especially if regulations for classified information do not exist," Shih said, after citing as proof searches of the China Times in 2000 and Next in March.

"While we have tried to remove political influence from the media, the fact that the ruling party's Central Standing Committee members chair these media organizations really gives us a lot of doubts as to the party's determination to reform," she said.

DPP Central Standing Committee member Trong Tsai (蔡同榮) currently chairs the Formosa TV board, while Chang Chun-hung (張俊宏), another member of the committee, has a seat on Global TV's board.

Aside from criticizing the government, Shih also talked about the media's lack of self-regulation.

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