Tue, Dec 08, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Interaction with other nations aids rights, Wang says

By Jenny W. hsu  /  STAFF WRITER

Increased participation in international organizations and signing trade pacts with major countries besides China are major factors that will contribute to human rights, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference held to publicize Shih Hsin University’s yearly survey “Taiwan: Civil Liberty and Political Rights,” Wang, who also serves as the chairman of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, said increased involvement in UN specialized agencies would ensure the public of better access to information and help Taiwan connect with the rest of the world.

After its accession to the World Health Assembly as an observer this May, Taiwan is vying to have more “meaningful participation” to two UN specialized agencies — the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Wang said the nation’s continual survival and its human rights hinge upon the support of the global community. Moreover, as the government looks to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with Beijing, it should also expedite signing similar trade pacts with other key players, such as the US, Japan, the EU and ASEAN nations.

By forging stronger economic ties in these regions, Wang said, it will lessen public concern over Taiwan’s dependency on the Chinese market and boost the country’s competitive edge.

Wang urged bipartisan support for the two UN human rights covenants that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) recently signed — the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — and also urged the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to stop paralyzing the legislature over the opening up to US bone-in beef imports.

Ma is scheduled to officially announce that the nation has signed the two UN covenants on Thursday.

The survey was conducted on a sample of 1,068 respondents and it covered six areas — personal liberty, individual freedom and equality, religious freedom, freedom to assemble, freedom to vote and access to public services.

The survey showed that, while the respondents gave the human rights situation a score of 3.26 out of five, the so-called “social elite” gave a slightly higher score of 3.37. The term “social elites” refers to academics and “experts,” the university said.

The survey also showed that vote-buying is still considered a prevalent problem and the respondents also questioned the government’s emergency response abilities.

While the “social elite” gave a 3.61 mark for the freedom to assemble and join civic groups, the public only marked it 3.25, possibly a result of disagreements over the contents of the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), academics said.

Freedom of mobility received the highest score of 4.07 and 4.27 from the public and the “social elite” respectively, the poll showed.

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