Wed, Nov 07, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Politician pans agency over files

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) yesterday blasted a government agency for not granting him complete access to declassified historical files compiled on him during the White Terror era.

Shih, who served 25 years as a political prisoner for “intention to overthrow the government,” was accompanied by his wife, Chen Chia-chun (陳嘉君), two daughters, Chinese Culture University professor Yao Li-ming (姚立明) and DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) on a visit to the National Archives Administration (NAA) yesterday afternoon.

The former DPP chairman, who is working on a memoir, intended to review documents on cases in which he was involved. The NAA allegedly refused to provide some documents that involved a third person and many parts of the documents they did provide were blacked out.

Citing the recently implemented Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法), NAA Deputy Director-General and spokesperson Lin Chiu-yen (林秋燕) said the administration provides documents to viewers, in particular political victims and their families, under the principle of “minimal limitation.”

However, information about political victims or third persons in the same case would be covered or removed, for privacy reasons.

Fifty years after his first imprisonment, Shih said he thought he was entitled to have access to all the declassified files and understand what exactly happened decades ago, such as who was the informer in the Kaohsiung Incident in 1979 who told the authorities about his plans and his whereabouts.

“It is ridiculous that I would have to have the permission of the informer or his family to take a look at those files,” he said.

Shih also said the Personal Information Protection Act was not a reason to block him from accessing the information, because he was not granted full access to those files during his many visits to the NAA in the past decade before the act was enacted.

Shih’s wife and Tien both said that, according to law, all historical documents would be declassified after a maximum of 30 years, which was why they should be available to the public without limitation.

“Those files of the White Terror period are public property. There would be no reason to keep them from the public,” Chen said.

Tien criticized the agency for “abusing law and protecting the informers” under the name of protecting privacy.

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