Fri, Jul 03, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Reshuffle at TDF done democratically, Ou says

By Jenny W. hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The reshuffle at the government-sponsored Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) reflects the current political distribution in Taiwan and it was carried out in a democratic manner, Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) has told the US-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Ministry Spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) told a press briefing yesterday that Ou wrote a letter to NED president Carl Gershman who, along with some members of Congress, had expressed concern over the recent reshuffle at the foundation and asked President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) not to interfere in the foundation.

In the letter dated June 29, Ou said Article 8 of the foundation’s charter stipulates that half of its board members must come from political parties that occupy 5 percent or more of the seats in the Legislative Yuan and therefore, the TFD board changes after each legislative election.

Ou appealed to the US to respect the sovereignty and the rule of law of different nations. He also said he hoped that the NED, under Gershman’s leadership, would show similar deference to Taiwan’s due process.

Gershman wrote to Ma last month to urge him not to interfere with the foundation’s structure and the policies after it was reported that under Beijing’s influence, the Ma administration planned to make major changes to the foundation’s governing board and to prevent it from offering financial support to pro-democracy movements in China, Tibet and Cuba.

“It has come to my attention through reports in the press that broad changes are being proposed for the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. I am concerned that such an overhaul could well compromise both the Foundation’s independence and the quality of its work,” Gershman wrote.

While the NED was the only organization to react so strongly, a number of other Washington-based groups — including Freedom House and the Formosan Association for Public Affairs — are known to be concerned about reports of Ma’s alleged plans to interfere with and restrict the foundation.

Several members of the US Congress are also worried about the situation, but have decided to wait until Ma officially makes his plans known before reacting.

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