Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Journalists' group to push for Constitution changes

FREEDOM OF SPEECH The Association of Taiwan Journalists wants to make sure principles for press freedoms find their way into a revised Constitution

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Association of Taiwan Journalists plans to launch a campaign aimed at including in a revised Constitution a set of articles that would serve as guiding principles for freedom of speech and freedom of the press -- issues that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has identified as priorities for his second term.

Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), secretary-general of the Presidential Office, whom the president has assigned the task of overseeing preparatory work for the constitutional revision process, reacted positively to the association's plans, saying that he is willing to include the group's proposals in the agenda of a future constitutional reform committee.

"We have held three staff meetings to discuss preparatory work in past month, and now I am going to talk with opinion leaders from different fields and listen to their suggestions," Su said.

"We welcome journalists' drawing up a draft relating to media reform as soon as possible," Su said.

"I promise that their draft will become an important element in revising the Constitution," he said.

The association will celebrate its 10th anniversary next March. It is preparing to hold an international conference to discuss the nation's media development and expects that journalists' organizations from other Asian countries will join in discussing how to improve the media environment.

"Media reform isn't just about issues of ownership and personnel, which are the only things that Taiwan's reporters seem to be interested in," said association secretary-general Ray Chang (張瑞欽).

"This attitude only causes more disputes among political forces," he said.

"Taking as an example the nomination of Chiang Hsia (江霞), the new general manager of the state-controlled Chinese Television System (CTS), the way the media covered this event just provoked another war of words between the Democratic Progressive Party and the pan-blue camp," Chang said.

"The real issues of the nomination -- the liberalization of state-run media outlets and putting those outlets under public supervision -- were ignored. Reporters wasted too much time covering conflict between politicians," Chang said.

"We would like for media reform to help reduce ideological disputes between political parties," he said.

Tony Liu (呂東熹), president of the association, said the group will make a formal announcement asking the government to back media reform before the end of August.

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