Several of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) national policy advisers yesterday showered Ma with accolades on the eve of his first presidential inauguration, while one criticized former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) for lifting the baojin (報禁) — restrictions that banned the establishment of new newspapers — which he said led to biased reporting that failed to do Ma justice.
Lee Tsung-chi (李總集) told a news conference in Taipei that Ma has implemented many policies that benefited the nation, but he has been misrepresented by “distorted” media coverage.
“No matter how hard he works, people just fault him for anything he does,” Lee said.
Harsh criticism has also compromised government agencies, resulting in low morale among public servants, as well as a lack of determination and focus, he said.
Society has become “decadent” and media outlets are to blame, he said.
However, Chiang is the one who should really be blamed for today’s problems, Lee said, adding that Chiang’s “biggest mistake” was to end the restrictions on newspapers.
Ma’s cross-strait policies are “sensible” and served to uphold Taiwan’s dignity, set aside disputes and further talks between Taiwan and China, Lee said.
The president’s approach to the cross-strait relationship has come into fruition and Ma has achieved “unequalled accomplishments” for Taiwan, which have earned heartfelt respect and support both domestically and internationally, Lee said.
The adviser said that Ma exudes an air of “quiet dominance” for insisting on doing the things he believes to be right.
Adviser Hsu Wun-pin (許文彬) highlighted Ma’s promotion of judicial human rights, citing the release of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on medical parole from Taichung Prison on Jan. 5 because of Chen’s deteriorating health.
The Taipei District Court also recently decided to halt another criminal trial that Chen was facing because of his illness, Hsu said.
Ma should review the spirit of the Act of Courtesy for Former Presidents and Vice Presidents (卸任總統副總統禮遇條例) and consider granting Chen a special pardon, he said.
However, a Presidential Office source said that Ma insists upon the rule of law, and “would not interfere in individual judicial cases, especially since special pardons can only be granted after cases are final.”
There are still four criminal cases pending against Chen, the source said.
The former president was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined NT$250 million (US$8.16 million at current exchange rates) in a series of corruption cases that were launched after he left office.
He was detained in November 2008 before being put on trial and began serving the first of his sentences on Nov. 11, 2010.
His one-month medical parole was renewed for three months and then again until the beginning of August.
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