Fri, Jan 13, 2012 - Page 3 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: INTERVIEW: Rights advocate hoping to see reforms

Convener of the Human Rights Lawyer Group Wellington Koo told staff reporter Tzou Jiing-wen of the ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister paper of the ‘Taipei Times’) that while the previous two transfers of power in Taiwan did not meet the public’s expectations, a third transfer of power would not necessarily bolster democracy, but that alternation, nonetheless, must be a viable option

Lawyer Wellington Koo gestures during a Jan. 4 interview with the Liberty Times.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Liberty Times: How do you view the role of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division played [in the investigation of the Yu Chang case], reports that the Bureau of Investigation has been monitoring candidates’ movements and allegations that the government has been violating administrative neutrality?

Wellington Koo (顧立雄): Taiwan has gone from a period of Martial Law and authoritarianism to democracy.

The characteristic [of the transition] is that it began under former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) under the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Lee led the KMT toward democracy.

Some have called it a “Quiet Revolution,” but during the process of the transition there remains parts of the KMT that have not yet been able to completely make the transition.

The good part [of the transition] is that there was no bloodshed, but the bad part is that the will and direction of [Lee’s] reform were not completed because of certain obstacles.

There are still many aspects that have not changed, such as the intelligence system maintaining its original staff and judges in the judiciary system left over from the authoritarian era.

The changes that were made were because of the will of the man in power and some parts [of the system] that infringed on human rights, such as the Taiwan Garrison Command and monitoring of the media, were abolished. However, the basic framework that balances the separation of the power of the state, [namely] the independence of the judiciary, the embrace of human rights by the judiciary, the neutrality of administrative organizations and avoiding pandering to the government, is not enough.

Just from looking at the elections, the KMT’s immense party assets, extant under Lee and now President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), obviously means that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is at a disadvantage. At the same time, this “milk” [party assets] provides [the nutrients] for certain civil servants, spread throughout the government, to grow. This direct relationship is a violation of administrative neutrality.

If this were not the case, it [the party assets issue] would have been resolved, as everyone would then think about finding a new power base [and not be reliant on the assets.]

However, currently everything is still tied to [the assets], which pose an obstacle to thorough reforms and the ghost of authoritarian rule is therefore still haunting us.

The accomplishment of the Lee era is the flourishing of the power of the private sector, but the government has not followed the thriving private sector by making thorough reforms, so it needed the transfer of power in 2008 to further deepen [the reforms.]

That is the great value of the transfer of power — from a historical perspective, to make a bloodless and orderly transition between political parties is a good thing.

In 2000, the public voted for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), hoping that he would complete the much needed tasks.

However, looking back at the eight years of the Chen administration, in terms of the hope that it would deepen democratic reforms, strengthen administrative neutrality, allow the judiciary system to gain the trust of the people, maintain the discretion of the prosecution system and perform a “healthy” rebalancing of governmental powers, its performance was frankly disappointing.

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