Having recently resigned as executive director of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), Lin Wen-cheng (林文程) has now been invited to serve as an adviser, the foundation said in a press statement late on Friday night.
Acknowledging Lin’s past contribution, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-Pyng (王金平) — who doubles as chairman of the foundation — extended the invitation to Lin and said he expected him to continue to take part in the foundation’s work, the press release said.
Lin resigned as executive director on Thursday, citing political interference.
Lin said that in June then-National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Su Chi (蘇起) met Wang and told him that Lin should step down because he once served as a NSC adviser under the DPP administration and that Lin had expressed support for Taiwanese independence during a closed-door meeting at the Brookings Institution in the US in 2004. Lin also quoted Su as telling him in October that although he was doing a good job, his position was a symbolic one and that he had to leave because the ruling party had changed.
Wang on Thursday told the board that Lin was not removed, but that he had resigned.
In a statement on Friday night, the foundation said: “Wang specially nominated Huang for the post of executive director with the belief that the foundation would perform better” given Huang’s extensive experience in academia and government.
The foundation, established in 2003 under the Democratic Progressive Party administration, is affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and works to promote human rights and democracy worldwide.
In the press release, Wang also lauded the foundation’s new executive director, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmaker Huang Teh-fu (黃德福), adding he was confident that Huang would endeavor to promote the work of the foundation.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Friday, Maysing Yang (楊黃美幸), one of the foundation’s board members, who is deemed close to the pan-green camp, said the TFD was created to promote democracy and human rights and should therefore not be controlled by the government just because the latter provides the budget.
She said that if the government wanted to have complete control of the foundation, it might as well subsume it into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Under the leadership of Wang and Lin, board members have worked together regardless of political affiliation.
Yang said the TFD was ranked No. 23 out of 1,183 public policy think tanks in Asia last year, the highest among all 52 think tanks in Taiwan evaluated that year.
Yang said the foundation’s operations had faced continual political interference since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came into office, adding that in addition to interventions in personnel appointments, the government had tended to express “concern” for the TFD whenever it hosted events and conference, or published articles in its own magazine expressing opinions that differed from those of the government.
Yang said she suspected that such interventions were an attempt to please China, as the foundation has paid particular attention to the development of democracy in that country.
Because of government interference, several people working in the TFD’s international affairs department are considering handing in their resignations, she said.