Wed, Mar 09, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Premier vows to recover old documents

INVESTIGATION:Premier Simon Chang told lawmakers he advised the ministry of defense to suspend officials involved in the search of Wei’s house to facilitate a probe

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Premier Simon Chang, left, answers questions at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Premier Simon Chang (張善政) yesterday pledged to explore ways to recover old classified government documents held by private individuals as he was questioned by legislators about the military police’s allegedly warrantless search of a residence of a civilian who possessed White Terror era documents.

Chang made the promise during a question-and-answer session at the legislature in Taipei in response to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai’s (陳其邁) inquiries regarding media reports that the proprietor of a Yahoo auction store, Rebirth.com, is in possession of nearly 1,000 government documents from the White Terror era.

The store owner, surnamed Hu (胡), is said to be the person who initially sold the documents to a middle-aged man surnamed Wei (魏), whose house was searched by military police on Feb. 19 after he attempted to sell the files online.

“When you learned about the controversial search of Wei’s residence, did you see the military police as the only problem? Did you not realize the significance of these documents in assuaging the historical wounds of Taiwanese and that the [military police’s] handling of Wei’s case is reminiscent of the White Terror era?” Chen asked.

Chen said such old documents are indispensable in the nation’s efforts to achieve transitional justice, particularly given that many cases of injustice or wrongful conviction during the White Terror era remain unredressed, such as the incidents involving former general Sun Li-jen (孫立人) and Free China co-founder and publisher Lei Chen (雷震).

Sun was falsely accused of mutiny and put under house arrest for about three decades by former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正), while Lei was accused of sedition and sentenced to 10 years in prison for publishing a magazine trumpeting democracy in 1960.

“From an historical viewpoint, we really should learn more about the cases involving Sun and Lei. Yet there were certain specifications about how to handle such documents, such as destruction. I think a more balanced approach would be to draw up a special act to deal with these old documents in a more flexible manner,” Chang said.

Chang said it is inappropriate for the documents to be in private hands, but it would require further deliberation as to which government agencies should be tasked with recovering them.

The documents should be scanned and stored electronically to ensure easy access by future generations, the premier said.

Meanwhile, People First Party Legislator Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔) criticized the Ministry of National Defense over its perceived reluctance to discipline more high-ranking military officers and officials over Wei’s case, in which only a major-general and a colonel have been temporarily removed from their posts.

“Are the punitive measures against these two men alone enough?” Chen Yi-chieh asked Chang and Minister of National Defense Kao Kuang-chi (高廣圻).

Chang said he advised the ministry to temporarily remove high-level officials involved in Wei’s case from their posts to ensure a smooth investigation into the matter, adding that it is within the ministry’s discretion to decide what punishments should be handed down and to whom.

Kao said the two disciplined military officers were directly in charge of the investigation into Wei, the ministry decided to transfer them pending the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office’s investigation.

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