Thu, Nov 18, 2010 - Page 3 News List

2010 ELECTIONS: Director at Freedom House objects to CNA’s coverage

MISAPPREHENSION:Christopher Walker said the state-owned media misrepresented what he said in his speech on Taiwan’s democracy

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff Reporter

The director of studies at US-based Freedom House yesterday accused state-owned Central News Agency (CNA) of “misapprehending” his comments regarding the judicial process in Taiwan and claiming that he saw a recent verdict against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as positive for Taiwan’s democratic development.

The Formosa Foundation, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization, invited Christopher Walker to give a speech on freedom in Taiwan on Sunday, in which he focused on democratic processes, institutional transparency and media freedom in Taiwan and the region.

However, a CNA report of the event released the following day misrepresented his remarks on the judicial process in Taiwan in a way that made it appear he was specifically commenting on the corruption cases against Chen, Walker said.

The Chinese-language report, which has not been translated into English by the wire service, read: “After former president Chen Shui-bian recently [on Nov. 11] received his final [guilty] verdict, Christopher Walker ... said he believes that while this was a tough choice to make, punishing a corrupt regime with jail will help Taiwan’s democratic system become stronger.”

Still quoting Walker, the report continued: “Administrations that do not pay any attention to corruption will end eventually.”

“Walker said that strong democratic systems are generally not influenced by isolated events, however, because Taiwan is a young democracy, events like the Chen case will give rise to discussions about whether Taiwan’s democratic system is strong enough,” the article added.

Those passages, Walker told the Taipei Times yesterday, misrepresented what he said and put words in his mouth.

“Freedom House places emphasis on key areas of the democratic process and does not take a position on a specific case, as was suggested in these media reports relating to the case of former president Chen,” he said.

“Rather, our assessments focus on the degree to which a country’s institutions are operating in a transparent and accountable manner, and according to the rule of law,” Walker added.

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