Tue, Aug 14, 2007 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Transitional justice still a DPP priority, Shieh says

LEGACY Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey said it was difficult to redress injustices in a country in which the oppressors still hold significant power

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Shieh Jhy-wey speaks at the launch of three television commercials promoting Taiwan yesterday. The films, which are co-produced by the GIO and the National Geographic channel, will be shown in 130 countries throughout Asia, Australasia, Europe and Africa.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) says that transitional justice remains a priority for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government.

"The DPP government has been working on transitional justice ever since it came to power in 2000," Shieh told the Taipei Times in an interview on Monday last week. "It is proving difficult for us to do this but we will continue our efforts."

A former de facto ambassador to Germany, Shieh compared the process of transitional justice in the former German Democratic Republic, commonly known as East Germany, to what the DPP government has been doing in Taiwan.

He said that after the reunification of Germany, the democratic government set about returning assets stolen by the former communist government to the people. The government also established an independent organization to supervise the process.

Secondly, the government made public a "black list" of names of pro-democracy activists. These people's names were officially cleared and they were compensated for damage done to their reputations.

Thirdly, the German government relieved at least 50 percent of judges of their positions.

Finally, the government made public a list of former informers to the communist government. These people lost the right to serve in government office.

"The problem is, the former communist government of East Germany collapsed suddenly. A new democratic government took over immediately and began these processes. Here in Taiwan, the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] still exists -- it has not vanished," Shieh said. "East German communists never ruled again after the new government took over. But, here, the KMT continued to rule the country for another 13 years after martial law was suspended."

Shieh said the post-martial law period was key because many reforms that might otherwise have taken place did not because the KMT continued to rule.

He said that while it was alright to complain or criticize the DPP government for not working hard enough, the public should also be aware that the KMT had made change difficult. This is why the transitional justice process has been sluggish, he said.

Shieh said the KMT's influence had also created numerous contradictions. He said KMT Chairman Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄) was a living example of the conflicted feelings Taiwanese had for the party.

"[Wu Po-hsiung's] uncle, Wu Hung-chi [吳鴻麒], was a victim of the 228 incident. You would think [Wu Po-hsiung] would hate the KMT and support the other side. However, he is the KMT chairman," Shieh said.

Shieh also spoke about the lawsuit brought against him by KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Ma sued Shieh for accusing the former KMT chairman of being a "career student," a euphemism for a student informer, during his time at law school in the US. Shieh said this was another example of the difference between transitional justice in Germany and Taiwan.

"Using the KMT's logic, an informer does not need to defend himself when he is questioned. His defense is to sue you," Shieh said. "The biggest difference is, in Taiwan, you won't see these people apologize for what they did."

"Let me explain with a metaphor. Taiwan today is like a scar, which was stitched up without first disinfecting the wound. It looks fine from the outside but actually, inside the scar, the wound is not closed yet," Shieh said.

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